BGA Urges Transparency, Independence in Police Oversight Reforms

Policy unit weighs in on Emanuel's proposed police oversight reforms, urging greater independence, records preservation.

At a daylong City Council subject matter hearing on the Emanuel administration's proposed overhaul to Chicago's system of police accountability, BGA Policy Analyst Alexandra Gilewicz conveyed the BGA's concerns with the ordinance as drafted.

The proposed ordinance would replace the beleaguered Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) with a Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA), and it would create a dedicated Deputy Inspector General for Public Safety within the Office of Inspector General that would audit and make recommendations to the system of police oversight in Chicago.

BGA joined other advocates in expressing concern with the lack of a budget floor for either of the proposed oversight offices, as well as concern with the offices' inability to access independent, outside counsel.

"Provisions that promote transparency and independence should be considered necessary and foundational to any reformulated oversight body," Gilewicz said.

City Corporation Counsel Steve Patton indicated earlier in the hearing that the city is considering amendments to the ordinance that would address these matters.

Gilewicz also indicated the BGA's support for provisions that grant COPA the ability to review an officer's complaint history, but stressed that this is only possible if these records are preserved, maintained and subject to the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.

Read Gilewicz's full testimony below.