On Wednesday July 25 32nd ward Alderman Scott Waguespack introduced our Police Settlement Transparency and Accountability Ordinance. This ordinance is a giant step forward in 3 major areas:
1. It provides our City Council with wide-ranging information about civil litigation settlements and judgements stemming from police misconduct litigation. Alderman will no longer be pressured to vote to approve a settlement with less than all the information necessary to make an informed vote.
2. It creates a mechanism of monthly public meetings and twice a year remedy seeking meetings 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.
3. 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 current games being 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 three 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
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 is not a partisan issue. It 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 two national level police accountability experts in addition to input from members of the civil rights bar in Chicago.
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