Two more members to exit Chicago Police Board


The Chicago Police Board, the nine-person body that metes out discipline in the most serious cases of alleged misconduct by Chicago police officers, is in a state of flux.

No longer does the board have a say in who should be CPD superintendent, and the union representing rank-and-file CPD officers contends that cops facing disciplinary charges should be afforded the option to have their cases decided by a third-party arbitrator — a potential departure from 60 years of precedent.

Now under the purview of the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability, a new civilian-staffed oversight body, the makeup of the board itself is rapidly changing.

Two new board members, Aja Carr-Favors and Andreas Safakas, were appointed earlier this year. The term of board president, Ghian Foreman, has ended. Another board member, Jorge Montes, publicly announced his resignation from the board last month after he took part in two interviews with the CCPSA.

Ghian Foreman, who's term as Chicago Police Board president recently ended speaks about the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 push to remove pending disciplinary cases from the board's docket as board vice president Paula Wolff listens during its meeting at police headquarters on Aug. 17, 2023.

And last week, during the CCPSA’s monthly meeting, the commission announced that it would not recommend retaining two other board members at the end of their terms, Mareile Cusack and Michael Eaddy.

All told, four of the board’s nine seats — those once held by Foreman, Montes, Cusack and Eaddy — need to be filled. The CCPSA has submitted six candidates for those positions to Mayor Brandon Johnson, and he has 60 days to make his four choices, who will require City Council approval.

The six nominees are:

-Rebecca Cook, the chair of the NAACP’s West Side Branch criminal justice committee. Cook has previously spoke in opposition to the CPD’s use of a gang database, according to WTTW, and the CCPSA previously nominated her to sit on the police board in March, city records show.

-Debra Gittler, founder and executive director of ConTextos, an anti-violence organization in the South Loop that also operates in El Salvador.

-Oreal James, previously appointed by Gov. J.B. Pritzker to the state’s Prisoner Review Board, he resigned in 2021 after drawing heavy criticism for voting to parole two men convicted of killing CPD officers.

-Cathryn Crawford, a defense attorney for more than 25 years, including at the Lawndale Christian Legal Center. Like Cook, Crawford was also nominated for the police board in March. During a CCPSA meeting in Albany Park in May, Crawford urged that the next CPD superintendent eliminate the department’s tactical and gang units “that are notorious for acting with impunity and violating our citizens’ rights.” She also called for an end to CPD foot chases and the creation of stronger mechanisms for officers to report misconduct among their colleagues.

-Kyle Cooper, a Chicago Police Board appeals officer.

-Dr. Niama T. Malachi, founder of the Social Consult, an organization that, according to its website, offers management, leadership and other training courses.

Before the six nominees were announced, Foreman, the outgoing police board president, commended his soon-to-be-former colleagues.

“I’m really proud of the work that the police board has done,” Foreman said during the CCPSA meeting’s public comment period. “I’m proud of the work that all of our members individually (have done). Doesn’t mean that I always agree, we fight like family fights. And we don’t always agree with each other, but we all come to it from a different perspective, right? We all come with it with our own individual biases, with our own perspectives. We’re a really diverse group.”

Foreman — who conceded he was not a regular attendee at church — concluded his comments with a quote from the Gospel of Matthew, urging the commissioners to be cautious in their choices for police board nominees.

“Judge not, lest ye be judged, for the judgment that ye judged ye shall be judged,” Foreman said. “I want you to think about that carefully.”

CCPSA commissioner Yvette Loizon thanked Foreman for his 13 years on the police board and said the commission debated at length before settling on the six nominees.

“There were many people who applied to serve on the police board this time around and did not make our list of nominations,” Loizon said. “The decision on whose names were going to be submitted to the mayor and whose names were not going to get submitted was a very, very difficult one that we discussed and thought about and debated for quite some time.”

Jorge Montes, who announced his resignation from the board last month, said he was the first sitting board member to re-apply for his seat about a year ago, “so I became the guinea pig.”

The interview process was a slow churn, Montes said, and “it became laborious and time-consuming and not what I signed up for.”

Afternoon Briefing


Chicago Tribune editors’ top story picks, delivered to your inbox each afternoon.

Montes, an attorney who was previously a spokesperson for the Illinois Attorney General’s Office and served on the Prisoner Review Board for 16 years, also decried the CCPSA’s decision to not nominate Eaddy and Cusack for reappointment.

“There is something to be said for having institutional history of the board, and removing people that are very seasoned and have been on the board for a very long time is not healthy,” Montes said. “I understand their efforts to reform — I’m all for it, by the way, we need a lot of reform, yes — but you don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, and that’s what I think they’re doing.”

Eaddy and Cusack did not respond to messages seeking comment.

Members of the Chicago Police Board raise their hands in a show of approval for fellow members to attend its August meeting virtually at police headquarters on Aug. 17, 2023.

Activists had sought for decades to change the city’s often convoluted police discipline apparatus, but matters were codified in 2021 when the City Council created the CCPSA, a civilian-led body with oversight powers over the police board, CPD superintendent and the chief administrator of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability.

Meanwhile, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, which represents rank and file officers, detectives and retirees, sought earlier this year to remove 22 pending cases from the police board’s docket and instead have them decided by a third-party. That effort was spurred by an arbitrator’s award that found CPD officers have the right to have those cases tried behind closed doors. The police board denied the union’s request though, and the arbitrator’s award can not take effect without approval from the City Council.

Earlier this year, when the CCPSA was in the midst of finding finalists for the then-vacant CPD superintendent position, commission president Anthony Driver Jr. stressed that the body would maintain political independence.

“The consequences are the old ‘Chicago Way,’ where we’ve seen time and time again where you have a very clout-heavy city, where people do favors for folks and people get positions through political influence, and it hasn’t worked,” Driver said in July. “Our city has done this, has operated in the same way for decades, and we have not had good results.”


Source link