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Stalled Debate Over Civilian Oversight Of CPD Leads To Tense Exchange Between Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez – trendat

CHICAGO (CBS) — With nerves still frayed over the fatal police shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and a Latino aldermen butted heads at Wednesday’s City Council meeting, as the alderman demanded passage of an ordinance that could potentially strip away much of the mayor’s authority over the Chicago Police Department.

Toward the end of Wednesday’s City Council meeting, Ald. Michael Rodriguez (22nd) asked to speak about a resolution he introduced to pay tribute to Adam. While the City Council normally does not allow debate on items when they are first introduced, Lightfoot agreed the alderman to speak briefly.

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“Like every kid, Adam had many dreams for his future, including wanting to grow up to be a police officer, or a celebrity YouTuber, dreams that will never be realized due to his tragic death,” Rodriguez said. “Words cannot express the grief and sorrow we feel as we remember Adam’s life and mourn his tragic death.”

After Rodriguez wrapped up his remarks, Lightfoot said, “We all need to pray for the Toledo family, and to continue giving them support.”

The mayor then agreed to allow Ald. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) to speak about Rodriguez’s resolution, but warned she didn’t want to set a precedent of debating items that are being introduced to the Council.

But it didn’t take long for Sigcho-Lopez to draw the mayor’s ire, when he suggested Toledo’s death shows the need to pass an ordinance that would create a new civilian oversight board for the Chicago Police Department, which could potentially take away much of the mayor’s and City Council’s control of CPD.

“It’s been a real difficult time in our community, and what ultimately it demands and deserves is more than prayers and platitudes, but action Mayor Lightfoot. We have a bill, and you know this very well. We have the Empowering Communities for Public Safety,” Sigcho-Lopez said.

The mayor interrupted Sigcho-Lopez immediately at the mention of that ordinance, turning off his microphone, and declaring him out of order.

Sigcho-Lopez is prat of a group of aldermen pushing to create a civilian commission with oversight of CPD. Lightfoot has voiced opposition to that ordinance, in part over a dispute about whether the board or the mayor would have the final say in policy disputes between the board and the department.

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If that ordinance were to pass, voters also would be asked to approve a binding referendum in 2022 to empower a civilian police oversight board to hire and fire the police superintendent, negotiate contracts with unions representing officers, and set the department’s budget.

However, that ordinance has yet to get a hearing by the Public Safety Committee, even after months of discussions behind the scenes, as the committee chairman has said he’s waiting for the mayor to present her own plan before moving forward with a vote on any proposal.

The mayor has said, because she “wears the jacket” for crime in Chicago, she’s not willing to essentially hand over control of CPD to a civilian oversight board.

Lightfoot has said she still believes a civilian oversight board should have a say on CPD policy, and for months has said she plans to introduce her own citizen oversight plan, though she has yet to unveil one.

Asked after Wednesday’s meeting why she hasn’t introduced her own plan yet, while she continues to block the civilian oversight proposal she opposes, the mayor said she’s still working with various groups to finalize her plan.

“We’re talking about the most consequential change in policing maybe ever in Chicago. There’s a lot of conversations that need to be had. Those conversations are happening. They may not be visible to folks, but I think we’re getting close to being ready to provide an alternative proposal for consideration,” she said.

Lightfoot said she and her top aides have had multiple discussions with various community groups the past couple years regarding civilian oversight of CPD, and she wants to make sure she hears from all sides first.

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“There’s been a lot of engagement. There will continue to be a lot of engagement. They are also very engaged with other stakeholders who are also coming to us. So there’s a lot of discussions that are ongoing. Nothing’s being done in secret. It’s making sure that we are listening, that we are anticipating the full range of upsides and downsides,” she said. “I want to make sure that whatever is voted on, it has been thoroughly vetted by every conceivable stakeholder that we thought long and hard about the long-term implications, and not just let’s get something passed and then we’ll clean it up later. That’s not, I don’t think, a responsible way to govern.”

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