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Rahm Puts Off The Two Biggest Police Task Force Recommendations

By Sophie Lucido Johnson in News on Apr 21, 2016 3:32PM

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

A week after his Police Accountability Task Force released its scathing 183-page report on the Chicago Police Department (CPD), Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced he would implement some of the reports recommended reforms—but not the two most substantial ones. The 25 changes announced by the mayor Wednesday did not include disbanding the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), or reopening the city’s police union contracts.

Fraternal Order of Police President Dean Angelo rejected the idea of altering the contract between the police unions and the city before it expires on June 30, 2017. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that Emanuel would rather fall in line with Angelo than further alienate Chicago police officers.

Emanuel didn’t say that the abolition of the IPRA was impossible, but for now, he is giving the agency’s new executive director, Sharon Fairley, an opportunity to rebuild from within. The task force’s report emphasized that the IPRA;has wrongfully overlooked years of misconduct.

Emanuel also suggested that he would not dismantle IPRA until the Justice Department could be consulted. “If you’re going to make changes, you don’t want the Justice Department coming and saying, "You got that wrong. Now, do it again,'" Emanuel told the Sun-Times in an interview. The Justice Department has been investigating the CPD since December, just after the video of slain teenager Laquan McDonald was released.

Emanue emphasized that he was adopting task force recommendations, though. Hel told the Chicago Tribune that he had adopted about a third of the recommendations. He e has agreed to focus more on police training—especially regarding mental health cases. He also agreed to create an early warning system to flag any police officers generating a large number of citizen complaints; to accelerate internal investigations of cops; and to create a third-party hotline for police officers to report misconduct.

Other changes that have been initially adopted include creating a system for reviewing officer discipline histories and misconduct patterns in order to open new misconduct investigations; meeting more frequently with minority community members; and allowing IPRA and Internal Affairs to conduct investigations regardless of any other state or federal investigations that might be ongoing. These new changes will begin being implemented Thursday. Other changes—such as an increase of the use of body cameras and Tasers—have already begun rolling out.

Police Board President Lori Lightfoot, who co-chaired the task force, called the mayor’s motions “encouraging,” but added that “much more needs to be done,” according to the Sun-Times.

Another recommendation the mayor has not yet implemented is to create and introduce a reconciliation process. The task force’s report emphasized the importance of a formal acknowledgement of the CPD’s history of racism, which they added should be followed by a series of regular meetings on the subject. As of yet, he has not create the recommended position of deputy chief of diversity, either.