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'We're Not Asking, We're Demanding:' Advocates Advance Call For Civilian Oversight Group Over Police, COPA, Police Board, And Other Bodies

CHICAGO (CBS) -- Chicago alderman are now faced with daunting task of police reform.

Just one day after jurors in Minneapolis found Derek Chauvin guilty of the death of George Floyd, there is now a push to create tougher oversight over the Chicago Police Department.

As CBS 2's Tara Molina reported Wednesday evening, the oversight would come from the people of Chicago.

The proposed new group would oversee the Civilian Office of Police Accountability. We brought the call for it to the expert who created COPA, and she said it is in line with what is happening in cities across the country.

For the past nine months, since Floyd was murdered by police, there has been a national call for increased accountability and community input on policing.

Sharon Fairley, who created and built COPA, said Chicago is not alone in this rally for new civilian oversight.

"We've seen communities across the country looking to beef up their civilian oversight mechanisms," said Fairley, now a professor in practice at the University of Chicago Law School.

The proposal here?

"This body would oversee the complete system," Fairley said.

A commission, made up of civilians, would oversee COPA, the Police Department, and the Police Board – among other bodies.

"We want police accountability, and we want it now," said Frank Chapman of the Civilian Police Accountability Council.

Molina sat down with Chapman, also of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Oppression. He is one of the leaders formally calling for that accountability through an ordinance that would create that commission.

"We're not asking," Chapman said. "We're demanding."

Molina asked Chapman if the movement is seeking to reform the Chicago Police Department or to abolish it.

"Well, we want to abolish some of practices of the Police Department, and will abolish some of them," he said. "We have nothing against abolishing the police. We just don't think it's going to happen this side of the revolution. But now as definitely think the community should and will abolish police practices that don't benefit us."

The community commission would determine police policy, have the power to hire or fire the chief administrator of COPA, and - if the city votes for an addition to the ordinance - could have the ability to hire and fire the police superintendent, taking that power from the mayor.

"I want to make sure we get this right," said Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Mayor Lightfoot has already publicly opposed the ordinance.

But she said Wednesday, "I think we're getting close to being ready to propose an alternative proposal for consideration of the City Council."

At a City Council meeting on Wednesday, it didn't take long for Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) to draw the mayor's ire when he suggested the death of 13-year-old Adam Toledo at the hands of Chicago Police shows the need to pass the proposed civilian oversight ordinance.

"It's been a real difficult time in our community, and what ultimately it demands and deserves is more than prayers and platitudes, but action Mayor Lightfoot. We have a bill, and you know this very well. We have the Empowering Communities for Public Safety," Sigcho-Lopez said.

The mayor interrupted Sigcho-Lopez immediately at the mention of that ordinance, turning off his microphone, and declaring him out of order.

Mayor Lightfoot has talked about her alternative proposal for a while now - only saying she is working with aldermen, advocates, and experts on it.

The City Council Public Safety Committee chairman, Ald. Christopher Taliaferro (29th), still needs to schedule a hearing on the proposal, and supporters still have to present it formally to the committee.

For months, there were two competing groups offering different versions of civilian police oversight – the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability (GAPA) and the Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC). Last month, the two groups announced a compromised ordinance, but Ald. Taliaferro abruptly canceled a meeting where they would have formally introduced that substitute ordinance.

Ald. Taliaferro has said he wants the mayor to introduce her own plan before anything goes to a vote.

You can read the latest version of this ordinance, the Empowering Communities for Public Safety Ordinance, at this link.

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