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After lively debate, no action taken on ordinance to create CPD misconduct database

Ald. Leslie Hairston urged her colleagues to “grow a pair” and pass true police reform.

Chicago City Council, meeting on May 29, 2019.
Chicago City Council
Sun-Times file

After several hours of contentious debate, a City Council joint committee ended up not voting on an ordinance that would create a public database of police misconduct cases.

Finance Committee Chairman Scott Waguespack (32nd) and Public Safety Committee Chairman Chris Taliaferro (29th) presided at Monday’s hearing on the proposal, which they both support.

A revised version of the ordinance was filed just Monday. It is backed by Mayor Lori Lightfoot, but an earlier version was slammed last week by Inspector General Joe Ferguson, who said it would exclude too many cases.

Ultimately, Waguespack said the proposal would need further revisions, and no vote was taken.

Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10th), an ally of the mayor, said she couldn’t back the ordinance knowing the city’s two largest newspapers’ editorial boards, the Better Government Association and the OIG aren’t supporting it.

Waguespack said the inspector general’s office decided not to attend the joint committee’s online hearing, but Ferguson said he wasn’t invited.

“OIG is deeply committed to rendering transparent the City’s handling of allegations of police misconduct,” Ferguson said in a statement. “While we were not invited to participate in today’s hearing, we look forward to working with our City partners to pursue meaningful reform.”

Ferguson was encouraged to see some changes in the proposed ordinance, saying they would strengthen and broaden the scope of the database.

An earlier version of the ordinance would not include agencies that preceded the Civilian Oversight of Police Accountability — created in 2017. This would omit many high-profile cases investigated by the Office of Professional Standards and the Independent Police Review Authority.

Still, for many on the committee, the amended ordinance failed to go far enough, since it would include only cases dating back to 2000.

Ald. George Cardenas (12th) came to Waguespack’s defense, noting his history of being a reformer. Cardenas also noted City Hall has a history of “getting things done.”

Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) disagreed with that assessment. The Council often fails to get things done, she said, urging her colleagues to “grow a pair” and pass true police reform.