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IPRA head responds to calls for new police oversight agency

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The person in charge of investigations into Chicago police officers is responding to the scathing report detailing decades of racism within the force. (WLS)

The person in charge of investigations into Chicago police officers is responding to Wednesday's scathing report detailing decades of racism within the force and how she believes the city can move forward.

READ: Police Accountability Task Force's full 190-page report
READ: Police Accountability Task Force's 18-page executive summary

The Independent Police Review Authority, the agency blamed for allowing bad cops back on the street, could be nearing an end. As the mayor and aldermen review the task force report, work toward reform in the agency is already underway.

"What we heard over and over again from voices in the community - activists, civil rights lawyers - is that the legitimacy of IPRA as a brand was fundamentally and irretrievably broken," said Lori Lightfoot, Police Accountability Task Force.

"Even though they're saying 'abolish IPRA,' we still see ourselves as of right now, as having the opportunity to being the ground floor of that change," said Sharon Fairley, IPRA chief administrator.

Fairley is the relatively new head of IPRA who was appointed in December. Three weeks ago, she announced new hires and new methods to investigate police misconduct.

"The work that we're doing now - whether it's IPRA or whether it's something else - is going to sort of jump start the process for reforms," Fairley said.

While the task force clearly recommends that IPRA must go, the agency continues investigations and audits with the support of the head of the task force and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

"Sharon is doing a great job. You can have different names or titles. I think Sharon's leadership is very important but I'm going to look at the entire report," Emanuel said.

"I am hopeful that Sharon will be the leader of that new organization and that her leadership team will also continue, but a new organization was absolutely necessary," Lightfoot said.

"I'm just really gratified that change is going to happen. I feel really optimistic that change is going to happen," Fairley said.

Fairley said she has enhanced supervision of cases and is separating IPRA's IT from the police department. She also said an outside auditor is reviewing closed cases of police-involved shootings.

Fairley hopes the new IPRA attorneys and investigators can continue in any new police oversight agency.

Fairley said she will continue in her role if it is the will of the City Council.


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chicago police departmentrahm emanuelChicago - Downtown
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