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Head Of Chicago's Police Review Authority Ousted

By aaroncynic in News on Dec 7, 2015 5:11PM

A child sits on a man's shoulders outside Chicago Police Headquarters at the beginning of a protest of the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in October. (photo by Aaron Cynic/Chicagoist)

The head of Chicago’s Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), Scott Ando, has resigned amidst growing controversy over the Chicago Police Department's practices. The Department of Justice is expected to announced an investigation of the CPD this week, and the department just released another video showing officers shooting and killing a young person of color.

“In his four years at IPRA, Scott has taken important steps to move IPRA forward and reduce its backlog of cases,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a press release. “Yet it has become clear that new leadership is required as we rededicate ourselves to dramatically improving our system of police accountability and rebuilding trust in that process.”

IPRA was formed in 2007 to investigate allegations of police misconduct, including shootings of civilians. But of the more than 400 cases of police shootings the agency has investigated, it has only ruled twice that a shooting by an officer wasn’t justified.

"It's hard to believe," said Attorney Joseph Roddy, a former police union lawyer, said in an interview with the Tribune. "Michael Jordan couldn't make 407 out of 409 shots — even from the free-throw line."

It doesn't help the numbers' credibility that Emanuel appoints the head of the institution, or that several of its members have ties to law enforcement—or are former law enforcement officials themselves. Police officers' contracts allow a 24-hour window before an officer involved in a shooting is questioned by IPRA, and patterns of complaints against officers are not considered during shooting investigations.

Officer Jason Van Dyke, who shot Laquan McDonald 16 times, killing him, had at least 18 civilian complaints against him, and may have had a role in another police shooting.

In fact, one of IPRA’s own investigators, Lorenzo Davis, was fired over the summer for refusing to reverse recommendations he made in six cases where he found shootings by officers were not justified.

Sharon Fairley, who serves as first deputy and general counsel of the city’s Office of the Inspector General and served as an Assistant United States Attorney prior, will replace Ando, effective immediately.

“As an independent arbiter of allegations of police misconduct, excessive force complaints and officer-involved shootings, IPRA is a vitally important part of Chicago’s system of police accountability. Sharon brings the experience and independence to ensure that when an officer breaks the rules, they will be held accountable,” said Emanuel.