Craig Futterman on the Need for Genuine Community Oversight of Chicago Police

Communities need control over police if justice is to prevail

The public release of the video that showed Chicago Police officer Jason Van Dyke murdering 17-year-old Laquan McDonald helped propel Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot into office. In response to public outcry, then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel formed the Police Accountability Task Force and appointed Mayor Lightfoot as chair. Under her leadership, the task force issued a powerful report that indicts CPD’s entrenched racism, brutality and lack of accountability. As a central remedy, the task force called for the creation of an entity composed of community representatives with the power to oversee the CPD. Lightfoot wrote, “A coalition of community groups has proposed the creation of a Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC) to establish direct community oversight over the CPD. The proposal here strives to honor the principles established by CPAC.”

CPAC is based on a simple premise: Chicago police will continue to harm black and brown communities until the CPD becomes accountable to those communities. CPAC would create accountability by giving communities control over the police in the same way that elected school boards have power over their school districts.

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