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Reboyras denies he’s cutting out activists in negotiating civilian police review

Ald. Ariel E. Reboyras (30th) | Sun-Times file photo

A mayoral ally on Wednesday denied that he’s negotiating in a vacuum in an attempt to rush through a watered-down plan for civilian police review and insisted he can be fair even though his daughter is a newly minted Chicago Police officer.

“I’m on both sides. I’m in the center. I feel the walls crashing in on me. But I’ve got to do what’s right for the citizens of Chicago,” said Ald. Ariel Reboyras (30th), chairman of the City Council’s Committee on Public Safety and one of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s closest City Council allies.

“I think I will. I’m just hoping that we can work on something that all parties will agree on.”

Fraternal Order of Police President Kevin Graham has said there is no level of civilian oversight that Chicago needs or the union would accept.

“We already have it. We have COPA. And by the way, COPA is not in our current contract. If we didn’t want to cooperate with them, we wouldn’t. And we have cooperated,” Graham told the City Club of Chicago last month during a luncheon panel that included Reboyras.

Graham insisted on that day that there “already is a great deal of civilian oversight,” including a civilian advisory board in every one of the city’s 22 police districts.

“To spend more tax dollars when it really needs to go into a new training academy for the Police Department, to hire police officers, to improve on training and community involvement — that’s where we need to be spending our money,” he said.

On Wednesday, Reboyras maintained that he is still committed to some level of civilian police review, even though his daughter graduated from the police academy on Tuesday and is now an FOP member.

Mecole Jordan, coordinator for the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability, has accused Reboyras of negotiating in a vacuum — again — in an attempt to rush through a watered-down plan for civilian police review months before the mayoral and aldermanic election.

She has argued that the scenario playing out at City Hall is virtually identical to what happened in March.

That’s when Reboyras introduced two rival plans that neuter the proposal GAPA crafted after 18 months of public hearings.

On Wednesday, Reboyras flatly denied Jordan’s charge and said he “can’t believe she said that about me.”

The chairman acknowledged that he has “not reached out to her at all.” But only because he is busy negotiating with his colleagues, including Aldermen Roderick Sawyer (6th) and Harry Osterman (48th), co-sponsors of the GAPA ordinance.

More meetings are scheduled on Thursday and Friday of this week.

“I’m trying to work out something with my committee members. I want them involved. I’ve asked them to get involved. It’s not Ariel doing, like Ms. Mecole [Jordan] said,” Reboyras said.

“We’re hoping to get something put together before the end of the week,” possibly in time for introduction or consideration at next Wednesday’s City Council meeting.

Pressed on why he has not reached out to GAPA or Jordan, Reboyras said, “We may. We may.”

Jordan told the Chicago Sun-Times this week that it’s clear to her that the city is “never going to yield control to the community in any real way.” She called that the “driving force” behind Reboyras’ “business-as-usual, top-down approach.”

“To go back behind closed doors again without having a real conversation with the community — particularly after these five community meetings happened — is another mistake. We can’t hurry up and do the wrong thing. Too many lives are riding on this,” she said.

Jordan accused Reboyras and Emanuel of rushing to get a watered-down ordinance passed “before too much of the election season sets in.” But she predicted the strategy would backfire.

“There will be an outcry from the community . . . about the city continually shoving this down our throats,” she said.

Reboyras was asked how much civilian oversight he and the mayor were willing to give.

“Me personally? We’re still going through it,” he said.

“We’ve got to come up with some measures. No doubt about it.”