The coalitions behind the Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC) and Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability (GAPA) ordinances have united and created an ordinance to transform policing in Chicago.
The agreement reached between the two grassroots coalitions and aldermanic allies is a historic step forward in the decades-long struggle for police accountability. The coalitions are made up of many thousands of people in neighborhoods across the city. After years of working independently, the coalitions joined forces, collaborated with aldermen who have been powerful voices for reform, and delivered an ordinance that integrates the best thinking on police reform in Chicago. The ordinance gives residents a decisive role in shaping public safety in their neighborhoods and across the city, and creates the most democratic police oversight system anywhere in the country.
Civilian oversight of the Chicago Police Department must move beyond passively engaging communities to actively centering their voices. The joint ordinance comes out of years of directly engaging Chicago residents to increase accountability. It is also rooted in partnerships with local and national experts, and extensive work with aldermen and other public officials. The ordinance is the missing piece in providing true police accountability and real safety for all communities in Chicago. In the words of Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who is now blocking the community-led civilian oversight that she championed during her campaign and while in office, “We’ve waited too long…The time is now for us to act. We can’t wait anymore.”
“The joint ordinance is a big step forward for democracy,” said Frank Chapman, Field Organizer of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. "This bill establishes a Community Commission for the purposes of increasing public safety and ensuring that CPD activities are based on community needs and public input."
“The joint ordinance empowers communities,” added Desmon Yancy, GAPA spokesperson and an organizer with the Inner City Muslim Action Network (IMAN). “It ensures that the police department is accountable to our residents and that our public safety system reflects our values.”
“We’re united around a vision for police accountability that places communities at the center of community oversight, where it belongs,” said Alderman Roderick Sawyer. “I’m confident that this transformative approach will have the support it needs in City Council.”
Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa agreed. “This ordinance represents a historic milestone in the path to ending racist policing,” he said. “It will ensure our police department operates justly and provides public safety for all.”
In the coming days and weeks, aldermanic co-sponsors of the GAPA and CPAC ordinances will be briefed on the joint ordinance. As leaders in the fight to transform Chicago’s police department, the coalition is calling on City Council Public Safety Committee Chairman Chris Taliaferro to support the joint ordinance and call it for a committee vote in time to allow a vote of the full City Council in April.