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Should civilian oversight board have the power to remove police?

When it comes to police department reform, communities are looking for ways to have more power in holding officials accountable. In Chicago, one group wants the community to have the power to fire a superintendent.

The Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability released a proposal that suggests a seven-member civilian board be given the power to fire the city's police superintendent. It also calls for the mayor to retain the ability to fire a superintendent as well.

The alliance has been working on this proposal for over a year, after the Mayor's Police Accountability Task Force recommended the city create a community oversight board. Thirteen community groups are involved with the alliance.

Controlling Chicago policy

The proposal further suggests the civilian board have the power to set department policy. While the superintendent and command staff would continue to run day-to-day operations, the board would have the final say on any policy decisions.

It would create a Commission for Public Safety and Accountability to guide leadership, direction and policy on policing in Chicago. The commission's oversight would reach beyond the Police Department to the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which investigates police misconduct allegations, and the Chicago Police Board, which decides discipline.

The proposal drew sharp criticism from current police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who said no one from the alliance worked with him or his staff in their crafting of the proposal. Mayor Rahm Emmanual has yet to comment.

Whether or not this proposal is successful in Chicago, it is important for residents to understand when their civil rights are being violated and that they have the ability to receive justice. Police reform may not lead to immediate changes for the better, and there is still a risk that a civil rights violation could occur.

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