Public Safety and Law Enforcement Policy Issues Raised in Council and Aldermen Respond | Politics
The City Council did not vote on a proposal by Mayor Lori Lightfoot to seize Chicago gang profits at its February meeting once it became clear aldermen would not pass it then, but aldermen approved his appointment as head of the police oversight board. The local aldermen in the region do not support the mayor’s plan, but they voted to confirm his appointment.
Later, on March 2, the Office of Inspector General released a report which found strong evidence that black Chicagoans were disproportionately impacted and white Chicagoans were disproportionately less impacted by Chicago Police Department stops and uses of force between late 2017 and early 2020.
Aldus. Leslie Hairston (5th), who says police have racially profiled her in the past, said the report came as no surprise.
The 5th District, which contains parts of Hyde Park, Woodlawn and South Shore, covers parts of the 2nd and 3rd CPD districts. Hairston said police commanders in those two districts told him they don’t condone racial profiling of their officers, “which is different than what the numbers show.”
“While I am extremely concerned about the findings of the Inspector General, what they report to me is that they have spoken to their people about it,” she said. “If you have a ‘stern one to talk to,’ everyone will say they don’t. Until the department does something more proactive and has some repercussions, you still have the same cops in the room. Street.”
“Obviously some people in the Chicago Police Department have to go. If they can’t get through the program, they have to go. They keep changing up and down, but those are the mid-range officers and the officers. It’s not even the commanders: it’s the people who interact with the people. It’s your street cops.
Hairston suggested that granular identification must occur to find in which specific neighborhoods racial profiling is disproportionately occurring – the report found that African Americans were disproportionately arrested in 17 of 22 police districts, which cover large areas – and then find the agents stationed there.
She said there’s no appetite for that kind of reform in Chicago today, “But that’s the only kind of reform that’s going to change the department. Because you can change the head again and over and over, but until you change the wrong actors, you won’t make any progress – that’s why we continue to make millions of dollars in monthly settlements for cases that have happened since the consent decree.
Lightfoot first offered his plan to fine gang members – $10,000 to $15,000 for the first offense, $20,000 to $30,000 for the second, with money earmarked to help victims of criminal acts – in September. Lightfoot said she thought it would have been passed at the Feb. 23 council meeting and councilors would have more time to consider it at their next meeting, WTTW reported.
Hairston pointed out that the ordinance already exists at the state level (as Illinois’ street gang prevention law) and at the federal level and said neither had gained much on their promulgation.
“We are dealing with a different criminal enterprise system than we had in the 70s,” she said. “The days of having extremely well-organized criminals are long gone. That’s just not who we’re dealing with these days.”
Aldus. Jeanette Taylor (20th) called the proposal “a band-aid on a gunshot wound” and called for more investment in people and communities.
Like Hairston, she said the policy was a throwback to previous decades.
“It feels like the Ronald Reagan era,” Taylor said. “You are creating a war on drugs, and that is not what it is. It is us who are not taking care of people in our community, and they are committing crimes to survive. Let’s be honest about what it is. ‘East.
“These aren’t gangs we’re dealing with,” she said. “The gangs of the 70s, 80s and 90s are not what we are dealing with at the moment.”
Gang members at the time, while undoubtedly involved in organized and hierarchical criminal activity, protected communities, held meetings and paid dues, Taylor said. “These were different. They were protecting the community. In a strange way, they were organized.”
Today, gang members can’t leave individual blocks, Taylor said, adding that she calls them “convenience store cliques.” “It’s not gangs,” she said. “Who are they feeding? Who are they protecting? It’s like you don’t even know who is who, so I wish they would stop calling them that, because that’s not what they are .”
Aldus. Sophia King (4th) said the proposal is a solution looking for a problem that would not alleviate crime and feared it could be used inappropriately, again noting the changes in gangs and saying in besides that the procedure for seizing gang assets would be an inefficient use. CPD resources and time.
After a delicate series of committee hearings, the board confirmed Andrea Kersten head of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, or COPA. She is the last administrator the mayor will appoint and the aldermen will confirm: once the new Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability is formed, a council of elected Chicagoans will choose the new head of the city’s Board of Supervisors. police.
Kersten’s confirmation was controversial because she, as acting COPA administrator, signed a report recommending that the late officer Ella French be disciplined for her role in the botched raid that targeted Anjanette Young in February. 2019. French was then killed in the line of duty last August.
Hairston, King and Taylor were among 31 aldermen who voted to confirm Kersten. Hairston said she did a good job and was committed to research, fairness and speed.
Taylor said Kersten’s actions involving French upset her, saying she understood the process but was insensitive. Nonetheless, Taylor said she spoke with Kersten and allayed his concerns with her candour.
Taylor added: “A problem with some of my colleagues is that every time the police do something wrong, we don’t say anything about it. But let the police do something wrong, oh, we have to shout it. And I’ve said it before, when a policeman is killed, it takes them 2.5 seconds to solve the murder. If one of us is killed, your whole generation of family can die before find out, if she ever finds out.