clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

New IPRA chief promises greater transparency, independence

Sharon Fairley addresses personnel changes and her vision for the Independent Police Review Authority. | James Foster/for Sun-Times Media

The woman tasked with overhauling the agency that investigates police-involved shootings in Chicago said Monday that the agency’s work will be independent and, when possible, more public than in the past.

“There’s got to be a stronger independent body here,” said Sharon Fairley, acting head of the Independent Police Review Authority, as she announced personnel changes at the agency.

Fairley, who Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed to the post last month, said the agency’s days of always keeping mum on details until an investigation is complete are over.

“The difference is, we are no longer going to be standing by a hard-and-fast rule that we will never discuss the details of an investigation until it’s complete,” Fairley said, speaking to media in her offices in West Town. “I think that that position is now untenable in the world that we’re in.”

The decision to release investigation details will be made on a “case-by-case basis,” Fairley said.

Fairley’s appointments include a new chief of staff, Annette Moore, associate director of admissions at the University of Chicago Law School, and Jay Westensee, the new chief investigator, who currently serves as a chief investigator with the city’s Office of Inspector General.

New leadership, Fairley said, will create a more “collaborative culture” at IPRA.

Fairley was repeatedly asked about whether the agency will truly be independent — particularly from Fairley’s boss, the mayor.

“I don’t have any pressure on me from the mayor to conduct an investigation in any particular way,” Fairley said.

Emanuel appointed Fairley — replacing Scott Ando — amid the protests that began with the release of video footage in November of Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times in October 2014.

Fairley’s press conference ended after less than 20 minutes, with reporters shouting questions as she left the room.