Statement: Progressive Caucus Announces Subject Matter Hearings In Addition To Emanuel Administration’s Police Reform Community Engagement Plan

July 25, 2016

CHICAGO (July 25, 2016)–The Progressive Reform Caucus issued the following statement on Monday in response to the Emanuel administration’s announced plan for a new community engagement process around police reform and accountability:

“In June, we joined community and civil rights organizations in demanding  that the Emanuel administration pursue a comprehensive, citywide community engagement strategy on police accountability and reform, including meetings in the neighborhoods and subject matter hearings in the City Council chambers.

“That call came about following two midday hearings convened by the Emanuel administration widely derided as a sham by community groups and the media. The Progressive Caucus and other aldermen knew that we could not glean the information we need from the limited process already in place to make informed decisions as we pursue meaningful legislation on police accountability. So we began to organize our own series of town hall meetings and hearings, the first of which took place last Thursday with some 300 Chicagoans in attendance.

“In part in response to our demand and our plans, the Emanuel administration announced a new community engagement plan Friday. While we are glad to know the administration acquiesced to the will of the community, we remain cautious and fully aware that this process must be more than a public relations show.

“The Mayor’s Office agreed to our demand that a Progressive Caucus member co-chair each of these community town halls, so that we can attempt to ensure that they are authentically seeking community input, and are not simply a PR maneuver.

“Still, we feel that community meetings are not enough. We need to hear from experts from around the country on subjects covered in the Police Accountability Task Force Report, including community-police relations, legal oversight and accountability, early intervention and personnel concerns, de-escalation, and transparency. As such, the Police Accountability Subcommittee Chair Ald. Ricardo Muñoz (22) will move forward with plans to convene multiple subject matter hearings in City Council chambers in the coming weeks on those topics. We will invite experts and advocates to testify and answer our questions regarding best practices and the real problems we see on the ground in Chicago.

“We understand that the administration is eager to pass legislation in September. But as of now, no one to our knowledge has even seen a draft of the ordinance. Rushing passage of legislation this important at this critical juncture in our city’s history without full engagement of the community and subject matter experts would be a serious error. This series of public meetings and subject matter hearings, where we can hear from constituents as well as experts, is a vital component in this process that cannot be taken lightly, and therefore we are willing to take part in this process.

“The Progressive Caucus is clear that it cannot necessarily accept whatever legislation we’re handed–this issue is too important to be addressed via a top-down process. We, along with all of our colleagues in City Council, urgently need input from our constituents across the city, and from experts from across the country, in order to make sure we do this right.”

The Progressive Reform Caucus includes Ald. Leslie Hairston (5); Ald. Roderick Sawyer (6); Ald. Susan Sadlowski Garza (10); Ald. Toni Foulkes (16); Ald. David Moore (17); Ald. Ricardo Muñoz (22); Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29); Ald. Scott Waguespack (32); Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35); Ald. Nick Sposato (38); and Ald. John Arena (45).