By MEREDITH OGILVIE
Today, Oct. 5, City Council voted against Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th) 39 to 8 in her bid to have an alternative police accountability ordinance to Civilian Office Police Accountability (COPA).
The shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke prompted a public outcry for more accountability and reform in the Chicago Police Department (CPD), after the release of the dashcam video more than one year after the incident. Almost a year later, Chicago residents are still waiting for the reforms recommended by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Police Accountability Task Force to become law.
“As elected officials it is their job to do more than just vote on the mayor’s proposals,” said Hairston in a written statement. “As a lawmaker, my ordinance deserves a hearing and Chicago residents deserve the opportunity to see which of three ordinances is the most comprehensive and thoroughly addresses the problems the city is facing with police accountability and reform.”
Originally, 34 aldermen signed onto Hairston’s ordinance in April. Last month, she and Ald. Jason Ervin (29th) introduced a substitute ordinance combining their proposals calling for more citizen oversight, independence, and a dedicated and sufficient funding source.
Currently, the only ordinance under consideration is COPA, which went before city council earlier today.
Hairston said there are still many Chicagoans that believe the COPA doesn’t do enough to address the concerns of real reform.
“Instead of giving my ordinance a public hearing, it languished in the Public Safety Committee,” Hairston said.
Hairston said the mayor’s recent proposal to dedicate one percent of the budget to fund COPA is not sufficient. She also points out the city’s inspector general will not have independent subpoena power and the ordinance does not address domestic abuse and bias.
“These reforms are a fight for today,” Hairston said. “After you’ve set up how it’s going to work and how it’s going to govern and you don’t include these concerns in the beginning, how do you revisit it? That’s just backwards,” Hairston said.
Hairston said that rather than give her ordinance or the one submitted by the Civilian Police Accountability Council a hearing, the mayor is insisting on reinventing the wheel.
“This was our chance to get it right for the first time, Chicago, before the U.S. Department of Justice tells us to start over again,” Hairston said. “Such an edict will cost us time and precious money. Obviously, Chicago isn’t ready for reform. Sadly we prove it time and time again.”