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Panel rejects plan for elected civilian board to oversee CPD

Chicago Police Headquarters

A plan for an elected civilian board to oversee the Chicago Police Department was rejected on Monday. | File photo

A City Council Committee on Monday shot down the most extreme of four pending proposals for civilian police review after one aldermen claimed the proposal was drafted to appease people who are “hateful of the police.”

Ald. Walter Burnett (27th), who is African-American, likened the ordinance championed by Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th) to allowing the Ku-Klux Klan to “make a decision about me.”

“I felt hate when I was at some of these meetings. … Real hate,” Burnett said, referring to stormy public hearings on the issue held over the summer.

“You can’t resolve things when you use hate to try to resolve it.”

Ramirez-Rosa waited two years for Monday’s hearing and got it only after threatening to use a parliamentary maneuver to force the issue on the City Council floor.

Public Safety Committee Chairman Ariel Reboyras (30th) finally agreed to hold the hearing, but only to bury the ordinance and prove Ramirez-Rosa didn’t have the votes.

Shortly before the defeat everybody knew was coming, Ramirez-Rosa argued the ordinance was “rooted in a concept that dates back to the Black Panthers and to individuals that have been fighting against police repression for a very long time.”

“We should have a system of government that is accountable to the people and that, ultimately, is of, by and for the people,” he said.

“This is truly a community-led initiative. There are over 50,000 individuals that have signed green postcards” in support of the ordinance.

The plan championed by the Chicago Alliance Against Racist & Political Repression calls for electing one representative from each of the city’s 22 police districts; they would serve four-year terms with a dedicated staff and an annual salary matching what aldermen are paid.

The elected panel would: hire and fire Chicago’s police superintendent; establish police policy; investigate police shootings and other allegations of excessive force and police abuse; and pass judgment on police discipline.

The Police Board and the Civilian Office of Police Accountability would be abolished.

Three more moderate proposals for civilian police review are pending.

Still, Reboyras has been unable to forge a compromise capable of attracting the 26 votes needed for City Council passage.