05/04/2007

Chicago mayor seeks oversight on disciplinary review; no word from PD

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

CHICAGO — Mayor Richard M. Daley suggested Thursday that the agency that reviews officer-misconduct allegations should report directly to him instead of the police superintendent.

The mayor's proposal, which will be introduced at next week's City Council meeting, comes as the city tries to quash a perception that rogue officers aren't held accountable.

''We must assure every Chicagoan that we are doing everything possible to prevent abuse by police,'' Daley said.

The department has suffered a spate of embarrassments that includes a videotaped beating of a woman bartender, allegedly by an off-duty Chicago police officer. Four businessmen also say they were beaten by six off-duty officers.

At a news conference a month ago, a police watchdog group and several attorneys complained that the police department has done little to stop abuse by officers. The group pushed for an independent review agency to investigate allegations of misconduct.

Police Superintendent Phil Cline recently announced he will step down once his replacement is found.

Under Daley's plan, the Office of Professional Standards would become a separate city department with subpoena power. It would have to justify delays in any investigation that took more than six months.

The police superintendent would have 90 days to act on disciplinary recommendations, and would have to explain any decisions that didn't follow those recommendations. Accused officers could appeal any discipline to the civilian police board.

''I am grateful that we have come to the realization that the superintendent of the department is not the end-all-be-all, and that there has to be an authority above him in order that the needs of the citizens of the city of Chicago might be met,'' said the Rev. Albert Tyson, one of a number of clergy who appeared with Daley at a news conference.

The head of the Chicago police union did not immediately return a call for comment.

 

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