City Council panel hearings on police accountability met with skepticism

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A joint council budget and public safety committee is considering - at the request of Mayor Rahm Emanuel - an ordinance to replace the Independent Police Review Authority. (WLS)

A city council committee met Wednesday with the public to talk about ways to overhaul the police accountability board. It's being called a sham by some activists.

The activists agree with Mayor Rahm Emanuel that the city should change the way it polices the police, but they insist neighborhood residents have a say in how it's done.

When the hearing to design a police accountability reform ordinance began, the skeptics had already set the tone.

"Without community engagement and trust, those reforms will fail," said Erica Rangel, Enlace Chicago.

At an earlier news conference, a coalition of faith and community leaders demanded the hearings happen in the neighborhoods.

"The hearings scheduled for today and tomorrow are totally inadequate for engaging the community for police reform," said Paul Strauss, a civil rights attorney.

In the wake of the Laquan McDonald police shooting controversy, a joint council budget and public safety committee is considering - at the request of Mayor Rahm Emanuel - an ordinance to replace the Independent Police Review Authority. The alderman wanted to hear from national experts but were unable to schedule any.

Chicago Urban League President Shari Runner questioned daytime hearings during the week after Independence Day.

"There's a number of different reasons people may not be here and they may not be here for tomorrow's meeting, which again is during the workday," Runner said.

Police Board President Lori Lightfoot - who led a mayoral task force on the issue - also has demanded additional hearings in the neighborhoods. But in a statement Wednesday, an Emanuel administration spokesman questioned the need for more, saying: "The police Accountability Task Force themselves held a series of public hearings prior to releasing their report."

When asked if the mayor had lost the trust of police reform advocates, 17th Ward Alderman David Moore said: "There's a distrust of everybody. If the Aldermen set up and put out an ordinance without the community engagement, they're not going to trust it."

The mayor's office promised "additional opportunities for public engagement and input on the issue" but did not offer any specifics beyond the hearings on Wednesday and Thursday.
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politicspoliticschicago city councilchicago police departmentrahm emanuelChicago - Downtown
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