Chicago Police Board Reforms Pass City Council

For the first time in 50 years the Chicago Police Board will see reform come to their operations through a ordinance passed by the city council. The reform includes:

Term Limits:

No board members can be reappointed to the Board after serving more than 10 years in their lifetime.  This results in three current members being removed from the Board after their current appointments run out:

  • President Demetrius Carney
  • Vice President Scott Davis
  • member Rev. Johnny Miller

CPD Gavel PictureAll three were just reappointed to the Board and will serve out the remaining time left on their appointments.  Carney and Miller were in the top four of the nine members for missing the most meetings over the decade CJP studied the Board’s decisions.

Consequences for Absenteeism

“If, during any calendar year, a member of the police board fails to attend three or more scheduled meetings of the board, the president of the board shall provide written notice of such fact to the mayor and a rebuttable presumption of neglect of duty shall exist.”

This mechanism mandates that the Mayor’s office is aware of any pattern of absenteeism and in a position to act to remove the member for cause.

Two year terms for President and Vice President

This part of the reforms now mandates that the Mayor appoint the positions every two years.  This will allow for the replacement of one or both positions from members that are not appropriately living up to the duties of their office.

Votes of Individual Member Now to be Posted Online

“The yeas and nays of police board members on all votes shall be posted by the secretary on the police board website within ten business days of any such vote and shall remain posted on such website for at least two years.”

This is one of the two most important advances that are included in the reforms.  For the last 50 years the Police Board has operated in the shadows with little accountability for the actions and votes of members.  Now those votes will be online for the public and the rank and file members of the Chicago Police Department to access anytime they see fit.

Written Rationals for Decisions to be Posted Online

“The findings and decision of the police board, including an explanation of those findings and decision, when approved by said board, shall be certified to the superintendent and shall forthwith be enforced by said superintendent. Such findings and decision, including an explanation of the reasons for such findings and decision, shall be posted by the secretary on the police board website within ten business days of the date of certification of such findings and decision to the superintendent, and shall remain posted on such website for at least two years. If any member of the police board dissents from the board’s findings and decision, such member shall state the reasons for his or her dissent. Such dissents shall be posted by the secretary on the police board website within ten business days of the date of certification of the board’s findings and decision to the superintendent, and shall remain posted on such website for at least two years.”

This is the other most important advances that are included in the reforms.  Now Board members will have to provide written rationals for their decisions, this includes all members who decent from the majority decision.  In our 2009 study of the Police Board we found that in 42% of the decisions involving sworn officers there was some degree of descent among the 9 members.

Power to Make Recommendations

“The board in its discretion shall have the authority to make recommendations to the superintendent of police and to the chairman of the city council committee on public safety or its successor committee concerning revisions in policy and operating procedures to increase the efficiency of the department of police. Such recommendations shall be posted on the police board website within two business days of the date on which such recommendation is made to the superintendent and shall remain posted on such website for a period of at least two years.”

This same power was included in the ordinance that created the Independent Police Review Authority.  This will allow board members a vehicle to provide feedback to the Chicago Police Department on patterns they observe in the cases they handle.

 

We believe that the reforms included in this ordinance will bring the operations of the Chicago Police Board, which were stuck in 1960s legislation, in to the 21st century with an unprecedented level of transparency in their operations.  You can download a copy of the reform ordinance that passed the city council today below.