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Chicago Civilian Police Oversight Panel Off To A Slow Start

Chicago’s fledgling civilian police oversight commission has filled only two of 14 staff positions — a painfully slow start to reform vital to restoring the trust between residents and police that can be pivotal to solving violent crimes, according to the Chicago Sun Times. Testifying at City Council budget hearings, Adam Gross of the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability, called the commission a “startup.” Out of 14 positions in the 2022 city budget, only one person besides Gross is “hired and on staff,” Gross said, while another staffer is at the “end of the fingerprinting process.” Another has started the vetting process. Three more are in the “late stages” of being interviewed. Two additional jobs may be filled by year’s end. That would leave five additional vacancies going into 2023, when the commission will have nine more jobs to fill. “We’re a startup. We’re going from zero to something,” Gross said.

As a champion for civilian police oversight, retiring Alderman Harry Osterman said he was alarmed by the painfully slow start. He he said, civilian police oversight — a fixture in Los Angeles for nearly a century —cannot succeed in Chicago without the support it needs to get off the ground. He said, “Other departments that are large have the luxury of having vacancies. You don’t have that luxury. … We do not have the luxury of time. When it comes to public safety in Chicago, we’re on borrowed time. We have to go back and try to fix things every single day." ,” Osterman said. Anthony Driver, president of the interim commission, couldn’t agree more. He said the seven interim commissioners are supposed to play an “advisory role” only. Instead, he said he’s now “functioning as a staff person” to meet mandates that must be followed in the first 30 to 60 days.


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