Rahm Announces A Police Accountability Task Force To Save His Own Hide

By Emma G. Gallegos in News on Dec 1, 2015 4:46PM

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Calls for Rahm to resign are trending on Twitter and in the streets (Photo by Braden Nesin/Chicagoist)

In the wake of a video showing Laquan Mconald being gunned down by police, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has found himself backed into a corner politically. Protesters in the streets have called for his resignation. #ResignRahm is trending on Twitter. Both local and national media outlets are saying Rahm made a deal with the devil, suppressing the release of the video just long enough to win reelection. And now in a move that is widely seen as a fight for his political survival, Emanuel has announced the creation of a police accountability task force.

Updated: 11:10 a.m.: Emanuel announced at a press conference about the creation of the task force that he is firing police chief Garry McCarthy.

Emanuel's office sent out a release late Monday night saying the task force would "review the system of accountability, oversight and training that is currently in place for Chicago's police officers." The task force is supposed to report back with its recommendations at the end of March.

"The shooting of Laquan McDonald requires more than just words," Emanuel said, in a release. "It requires that we act; that we take more concrete steps to prevent such abuses in the future, secure the safety and the rights of all Chicagoans, and build stronger bonds of trust between our police and the communities they're sworn to serve."

He announced members of the task force:

  • Sergio Acosta, a partner at Hinshaw & Culbertson and a former federal prosecutor

  • Joe Ferguson, Inspector General of the City of Chicago and a former federal prosecutor

  • Hiram Grau, the former Director of the Illinois State Police and former Deputy Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department

  • Lori Lightfoot, president of the Chicago Police Board, a partner at Mayer Brown and a former federal prosecutor

  • Randolph Stone, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, director of the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Project Clinic, and a former Cook County Public

  • Deval Patrick, a former Massachusetts Governor will serve as a senior advisor to the task force
  • Rahm's issues go much deeper than the McDonald video. Before the video came out, data showed that over 100 officers have more than 30 civilian complaints against them. Most of those officers face discipline once or not at all. And suspensions rarely lasted any longer than a week.

    Emanuel says that this group will examine "the best ways to ensure officers with repeated complaints are identified and evaluated appropriately." The task force is charged with trying to "identify officers with problematic conduct, including racial bias, and what can be done to effectively intervene to change that conduct."

    Emanuel notes that the city created a civilian-led agency to conduct such investigations into police-involved shootings and police misconduct but wonders whether "there are additional changes that should now be made to improve the quality, independence or timeliness of IPRA's investigations of police-involved shootings and excessive force."

    The task force is going to address the best practice for how it should release videos:

    The City (including both CPD and IPRA) has a longstanding policy not to publicly release videos and other evidence relating to alleged police misconduct that is the subject of pending criminal and/or disciplinary investigations until such investigations are concluded so as not to jeopardize those investigations. The task force will consider if the City should change this policy, and if so, when and under what circumstances should such evidence be released to the public.

    There's a lot of skepticism that the task force will do anything: