This innovative legislation lifts the veil of secrecy on police misconduct litigation settlements and judgments while creating an entirely new regiment of responsibility for the City Council and the police accountability system in Chicago. Upon passing this legislation will be the best practice cities around the country emulate. Chicago’s communities deserve nothing less.
The Police Settlement Transparency and Accountability Ordinance creates an entirely new level of accountability for the Chicago City Council and the police accountability community. No longer will settlements be approved by the City Council without every alderman being full informed of the case details. No longer will the police accountability community hide from city council questions about what is being done to root out this behavior from within the Department.
Here are some of the highlights of the innovations included within this legislation:
- Alderman will no longer be allowed to approve a settlement with less than all the information necessary to make an informed vote. The ordinance mandates that every alderman be provided with the facts of the case before ANY vote in the city council can be taken.
- EVERY month that includes a settlement that the city council must approve or a court ordered judgment the public safety committee must hold a public meeting where the only agenda items can be the settlements and judgments. Leaders of the Chicago Police Department, City’s Law Department, and the police accountability organizations must answer questions from the alderman about their response to the alleged misconduct.
- Mandates that the public safety community hold remedy meetings TWICE a year that are focused entirely on ensuring the Chicago Police Department and police accountability system are doing everything possible to eliminate the behavior that is the basis for the litigation and thus, reducing these burdensome expenditures.
- It LIFTS the veil of secrecy on all of the money spent by the city to not only pay the settlements and judgments but to defend the cases in court. It also forces the city to provide detailed information about what firms and lawyers are being retained in every case and how much they are being paid for their services.
This ordinance is aimed at making sure that the City Council never repeats the shameful approval of a Laquan McDonald type payout without having the information they need to do their job.
The games played by the Emanuel administration like off the record briefings where Alderman are not even allowed to take notes need to be eliminated for good. With public money being spent to pay everyone involved, the process deserves to be public.
The items detailed above are just the highlights. The ordinance Is packed with plenty of additional powerful transparency requirements. You can read the ordinance for yourself here: Police Settlement Transparency and Accountability Ordinance
Settlement & Judgment Transparency is Non-partisan
The transparency requirements mandated by our ordinance should provide those that think the City fails to vigorously fight lawsuits with all the information needed to expose the problems they have been talking about.
Transparency provides information for all sides to use to support their efforts to engage in the democratic process. We hope this ordinance is seen as the non-partisan legislation that it is.
Who is responsible for drafting this ordinance?
This ordinance was drafted by the Chicago Justice Project with significant input by police accountability scholar and Emeritus Professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Nebraska, Omaha, Samuel Walker. There was also significant input from three national level police accountability experts in addition to input from members of the civil rights bar in Chicago.
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