Police Reform Groups Alarmed by City’s Counter-Proposals to GAPA Ordinance

For immediate release
March 30, 2018
Chicago civil rights advocates and government watchdog groups are outraged and alarmed by the watered-down proposals submitted this week by Ald. Ariel Reboyras in response to a community-driven ordinance for a police civilian oversight board.

For almost two years, the broad and diverse members of the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability (GAPA) have engaged in community conversations across Chicago to develop a comprehensive proposal for a community oversight board, with elected representatives in each police district and real authority over top police officials. This board was a cornerstone recommendation of the Police Accountability Task Force, created by Mayor Rahm Emanuel following the public furor over the killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by a Chicago police officer.

Instead of giving due consideration and a hearing to the GAPA proposal sponsored by Ald. Roderick Sawyer and Ald. Harry Osterman, Mayoral allies in City Council have introduced two competing ordinances that gut the structure of GAPA’s plan, transforming the oversight body into a purely advisory panel. The members would have none of the powers proposed by GAPA.

Bonnie Allen, Executive Director at Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, said:

“These counter-proposals are an absolute insult to the principles of transparency and community engagement. Police abuses, racial profiling, and discrimination against communities of color in Chicago have gone on under City Council’s nose for decades. It is only because a movement has been sparked by the enormous burden carried by those who’ve endured countless miscarriages of justice that we now have the momentum to introduce real measures of accountability and transparency to our police department. And instead of joining hands with community partners to fix this crisis, elected officials are attempting to sabotage reform with this watered down non-starter. It’s shameful.”

The Police Accountability Collaborative formed in the aftermath of the killing of Laquan McDonald to demand police reform and accountability. It includes the ACLU-Illinois, BPI Chicago, Chicago Council of Lawyers, Chicago Justice Project, Chicago Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, Chicago Urban League, Community Renewal Society, Cook County Public Defender, First Defense Legal Aid, and Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law.

Click here for more info on the Police Accountability Collaborative