Embattled Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he will disband the city's police oversight agency. It is charged with investigating police shootings and misconduct — but it has long been criticized for slow investigations that rarely result in disciplinary action.
NPR's Martin Kaste tells our Newscast unit that scrapping the Independent Police Review Authority is a response to a crisis of confidence in Chicago's police. Here's more from Martin:
"Chicago's Independent Police Review Authority was created a decade ago during a previous push for tougher oversight of police misconduct, but it failed to deliver. Only two percent of claims against officers were ever upheld — and the vast majority of complaints got stuck in bureaucratic limbo, never resolved one way or the other."
As NPR's David Schaper has reported, a Chicago Police accountability task force released a scathing report last month. It called for a "major overhaul in the way [the department] investigates officers and holds police accountable," citing a "racist history and use of excessive force." The report stressed a "fundamental lack of accountability and a stunning lack of transparency" within the country's third-largest police department.
It called for the Independent Police Review Authority to be replaced by a new, transparent Civilian Police Investigative Agency.
That's what Emanuel said he will do now, in his letter published in The Chicago Sun-Times. He says the new agency will have "more independence and more resources to do its work."
He adds: "It is clear that a totally new agency is required to rebuild trust in investigations of officer-involved shootings and the most serious allegations of police misconduct."
As we reported, Emanuel has faced mounting criticism, much of it related to the way a 2014 police shooting was handled:
"Emanuel has come under pressure since the November release of police dashcam video showing an officer shooting a black teenager, Laquan McDonald, 16 times. Protesters have since demanded the mayor's resignation. Thousands of emails released [in December] showed close communication between Emanuel's office, the police and the organization that investigates the police in the aftermath of deadly force incidents. And Chicago's police force is currently facing a Justice Department civil rights investigation."
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