… Police accountability Chief Administrator Sydney Roberts. We have all been putting in long hours over the last few days, and especially them.
We wanted to be here today to make sure that we reinforce for everyone in our city that we have not wavered, we will never wavier, on the road to police reform and accountability. Chicago’s road reform started, really more than four years ago, when I was the president of the Police Accountability Taskforce, following the righteous outcry over the video which revealed the killing of Laquan McDonald. And before I became mayor, my job was to hold police accountable for their misconduct and to use my voice and my seat at the table to push for needed reforms. And since I’ve become mayor, we’ve really been doubling down on this work.
The death of George Floyd, since that time our commitment to ensuring reform is a top priority – and that has only been reinforced in the urgency of this moment. That’s why on Tuesday night, I announced a list of reform measures – some of which were part of the consent decree process, but I want to accelerate them because we need them now more than ever. These measures build on not only the recommendation of the police accountability task force, but those in the consent decree as well. To implement these reforms within 90 days, it might be a tough task but it’s a necessary one – and I’m going to hold all of us accountable for that.
These include bringing the community into the police academy as teachers - this is something we’ve been talking about for a long time, and we need to do it, and get it done right. Providing district training on neighborhood history from the community’s perspective – no officer should be going into a new district without understanding the rich history and complexity of those neighborhoods, not just the crime statistics. We need to expand programs and include youth lead neighborhood exposure and education, like we’ve seen with My Block, My Hood, My City that leads just these kinds of tours. But we also need to make sure that we’re supporting our officers. It goes without saying that hurt people, hurt people. One of the things that I want to make sure that we get done quickly and we get done right, is improving officer wellness. Such as finally implementing our office support system and early intervention pilot. Improving our peer support program and ensuring we connect councilors to officers in need. As well as mandating, mandating, crisis intervention and procedural justice training for every officer. Delivering additional de-escalation tools for officers and community members to users, and undergoing a new recruit program on police community relations and community re-policing.
But Tuesday’s call to action was simply the latest in a series of ongoing reforms that have been undergoing for quite some time, and especially over the last 12 months. We are under consent decree, and we have very specific, court mandated obligations – and we will meet those obligations. To CPD partnering with community organization on evaluating department policies. To CPD holding conversations on how they can better access and do better across the board and bring the community into those communications as trusted partners. All of these things with the goal of building bridges, and authentic relationships between our police officers and the community and serving the public – it is our responsibility as public service.
These last few days have been incredibly challenging for our city, an that’s a supreme understatement. It’s been hard; it’s been painful; it’s been hurtful. But what I know, is that our residences, who are in pain are also remaining hopeful. They are crying out for us to act and to heed their cry and we will do that. We will not ignore the pain and the trauma that our residences are facing. And through it all, we need to make sure that our men and women of the police department, who have been working ‘round the clock. We need to make sure we appreciate the vast majority of those who have been doing their job the right way – but I want to make very clear: we will hold people accountable who cross the line. And I’m aware of reports of misconduct, and Sydney will talk more about it, but those will not be tolerated and they will be aggressively investigated. And Sydney and her team are going to call balls and strikes – no curveballs. They’re going to follow the facts and they’re going to make the necessary recommendations, whatever the facts dictate. We will investigate every case, and get to the bottom of every case. And we will with not spare any resource to do so. And I call upon the public again – if you believe you’ve been mistreated by the police, you must file a complaint. Please, call COPA now by dialing 311 - and chief administrator Roberts and her team stand ready to take your complaint.
Even though this has been a very difficult and challenging time in our city, we cannot and we will not abandon our values. And that especially includes our values in determination around police reform and accountability. This is fundamental to who we are as a city. Now is the time for us to accelerate our training around constitutional policing and commit to an understanding that respectful constitutional engagement with the people we are sworn to serve is the most powerful tool that we have. And I belief in my heart that the vast majority of police officers understand it and embrace it – but as I said, if someone crosses a line, no question. We will hold them accountable.
Now, COPA’s prepare for an increase in the volume of complains and as director Roberts will detail, they’re working to investigate every case as quickly as possible. But I want to caution everyone – and particularly those who are using social media and reading and consuming social media – you got to do your diligence folks. You can’t just accept at face value everything you see, and that includes videos. Now we’ve seen some videos out there that are deeply disturbing, no question about it, but give COPA and IED the opportunity to fully investigate, to understand the context, and then to transparently report what the findings of their investigations find. Just was one protester breaking into a store does not reflect the thousands of other peaceful protesters, so too does one video not determine the entirety of 13,400 sworn police officers. So, let’s give the investigators the opportunity and space they need to do their job before we reach a judgment. But if there is someone that needs to be held accountable, we won’t shy away from doing that.
Now I’m going to welcome COPA administrator, Sydney Roberts, up here in a minute, but I want to finish by adding that police reform isn’t the only thing that is going to transform and uplift our communities. I made a commitment at the time that I was sworn in, that we were going to invest in neighborhoods that lacked economic development and resources for decades. My commitment that I made a year ago in front of the entire city is no less now, in fact it’s even more determined to make sure that we bring resources to these community – particularly those that have been very hard hit over the last few days. This is precisely why we created initiatives like Invest Southwest; why we updated the ability to fund small businesses through the Neighborhood Opportunity fund; and other things that we have done in the ensuing days and months to make sure that we bring reality to equity and inclusion to all of our neighborhoods. Now you know this, that the challenges that we face as a city didn’t begin overnight and they will not be solved overnight, but we must be resolved and united and pushing forward to get done what needs to get done, to speak the hard truth, to be united in addressing these disparities that have existed in communities for way too long.
Thank you for your attention, your time today. I now invite Sydney Roberts to the podium.
Address from Sydney Roberts, chief administrator of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, followed by an address from David Brown, superintendent of police. Questions begin at timestamp 18:21.
Happy to take your questions. Let’s start with you Craig.
[Male Reporter 1] Number of questions coming in, first of all: just wanted to start with the video that you’ve seen Brickyard. Has any action been taken to take those officers off the street or are they still out there on the street?
[Lightfoot] Well, again, I don’t think it’s appropriate for us when there’s an ongoing investigation to really comment – but I’m confident that COPA is doing everything that it can to identify the officers and then we’ll make an appropriate recommendations.
[Male Reporter 1] Do you think those officers should still be on the street during the course of the investigation?
[Lightfoot] Look I don’t want to get ahead, and I’m not the head of COPA – I’m the mayor. And I want COPA to be doing its job, but doing it independently. They have to call balls and strikes on that. Of course I have my own personal opinion about it, but I’m not going to share it because I don’t want to influence what COPA’s work is. They have the jurisdiction, they have the mandate, more importantly they have my full support to do their job independently, actively, and expeditiously to determine what the facts are so that the superintendent can take the appropriate action.
[Male Reporter 1] This is from Becki with [inaudible]. Perhaps you’ve addressed this already, but the question was regarding the Brickyard incident, if Wright was seen disturbing the peace would that justify the actions depicted in the video showing officers beating her car with batons and then dragging people out of –
[Lightfoot] It’s a dangerous thing for us to engage in hypotheticals when we don’t know all the facts, and I won’t do that.
[Male Reporter 1] She also asked an unrelated question to this morning: the city council committee on health and human relations took up a resolution creating reparations committee, do you support reparations for the black community in Chicago and if so, what shape would they take?
[Lightfoot] Well I think today was a subject matter hearing. It’s important that we have a discussion about racism, about our history here in the city, and I appreciate that Chairman Sawyer brought this issue forward and we’ll continue those discussions in the coming days.
[Male Reporter 1] Heather Sherome from KGWS. The executive order, from your office issued May 29, expired yesterday per section 9. Does this mean restrictions like closures on the Lakefront are now lifted?
[Male Reporter 1] Or are you going to reissue –
[Lightfoot] No. We are fine turning the last few Is and Ts on a new order, but the Lakefront remains closed.
[Male Reporter 1] Couple of questions from Block Club. Some aldermen are calling for a reduction in police funding, David Brown previously said that police are expected to do much in terms of schools, mental health, etc. Would you consider reducing the CPD budget and putting that money elsewhere?
[Lightfoot] I don’t think that’s an appropriate action in this time. I think that the people in our neighborhoods, who want and have been begging for more police support in light of what’s happened in the last couple of days, it would be irresponsible for me to even entertain any idea that we would cut back on our public safety resources in this time.
[Male Reporter 1] We’ll get to the police chase in a second, Greg is going to take care of those, but Block Club also asked ‘Do you support the creation of a civilian police accountability council and why has it taken so long to enact this when Chicago’s experienced decades of high profile cases of police brutality?’
[Lightfoot] Look I’ve been very supportive of police oversight. I’ve said before and I believe that we shouldn’t fear police oversight, it’s worked in other jurisdictions. Unfortunately, the conversations here are stuck on a final few issues and it’s my hope that we’ll be able to break the log dam and move forward.
[Male Reporter 1] Dana Kozlov with CBS2 – your reaction to pictures on social media showing offices over the past weekend with tape or bands covering their badge numbers and or names, and some lacking body cameras, I know someone addressed it, but do you have any comment or reaction to that?
[Lightfoot] Number one they should of course have body cameras and if they don’t, again that’s a complaint that should be filed. That’s not acceptable and that certainly wasn’t the norm of the officers that were out there on the street handling the protests. There’s been some confusion that I want to clear up: many officers are wearing a black band over their star that doesn’t cover their numbers, that’s out of respect for the number of officers that have died in the line of duty in recent years. And I had an alderman ask that questions, and obviously wasn’t aware of that history. Clearly if someone is trying to black out their identity, that’s a whole different issues. But most of the officers who are out there with the black bands, that’s over their star showing respect for the officers that have been lost.
[Male Reporter 1] Realized you wouldn’t comment on particular information that might be seen on bodycam videos, but are you aware if there are other bodycam videos from the brickyard incident that did show what happened – give better perspective?
[Lightfoot] I don’t have that knowledge but I’m sure that COPA will be perusing all contemporary new evidence; both to help contextualize what happened, identify officers, and reach a conclusion in the investigation.
[Male Reporter 1] Lisa Donovan with the [Tribune] – sorry it’s a hard to read here in the reflection…
[Lightfoot] Yes it’s a little sunny today, which –
[Male Reporter 1] Yes
[Lightfoot] – it’s a good thing.
[Male Reporter 1] She asks “Mayor, President Obama yesterday called for an end in police practices of using choke holds to restrain suspects and said specifically that ‘mayors in the U.S. need to review that police department use of force police in wake of the George Floyd case’ – can you address that and maybe you can clarify what the police is here in Chicago?
[Lightfoot] Chokeholds are banned in Chicago.
[Male Reporter 1] Chokeholds are banned. And are knees allowed to be used on backs or anywhere else if they’re not used on the neck? I mean I don’t know what the rules are.
[Lightfoot] I’ll let the superintendent address that but obviously we know that there are some practices that have been used, and like what the officers who were involved in the killing of George Floyd, no police department that I know, certainly no reputable one, allows for officers to put their knees on somebody’s neck. That’s not standard policy nor should it be, because we know that that will lead to death. Superintendent?
Roberts takes over answering the question.
[Lightfoot] And Craig you’ve asked that question several times, now let me just be clear: it is not an easy thing to identify officers in the grainy video where people are moving quickly. I know that from my own experience having run a predecessor of COPA. COPA is doing everything it can to identify those officers, working in conjunction with IAD where necessary. And as soon as those officers are identify they will be reported to the superintendent.
[Male Reporter 2] Good afternoon mayor.
[Lightfoot] Good afternoon.
[Male Reporter 2] On the –
[Lightfoot] Apparently you’re indulging in the COVID beard.
[Male Reporter 2] Yeah.
[Lightfoot] You know you can get a haircut now?
[Male Reporter 2] Yeah. Mayor, so on a much more serious note then my terrible haircut – so there were some reasons given for the police chase last night, that he was a suspect in some killings in Harwood Heights and Norridge, we’re also hearing that that’s untrue. What was the reason for the chase? Was it justified and why wasn’t it terminated?
[Lightfoot] I don’t have all the facts yet. I’ve seen snippets of the video, and so until we know all the facts I’m not going to comment and I know the superintendent won’t either – but let me say this: I’ve been very concerned about police pursuits since I became mayor. The frequency of them, that they can cause death, they cause injury, property damage, a whole works. I tasked the chief resource officer for the city, last year, to start a process and reviewing what the existing pursuit policy was and to recommend any changes and then retraining around police pursuits. We will be making an announcement shortly about what the new policy is and what the training plan is. Police pursuits are obviously one of the most deadly and dangerous exercises that police officers are engaged in, and we want to make sure that if that is necessary it is done in very limited circumstances under full direction of a supervisor and done only with marked vehicles with lights and sirens so that when they’re racing through the streets, people know that there’s an emergency that’s happening.
We’ve had some mistakes that have been made in the past, and we want to make sure that we have the best in practice policy here in Chicago around police pursuits and I look forward to continuing to work with the superintendent and his leadership team on updating that policy. We will be making an announcement soon.
[Male Reporter 2] Was last night’s chase a mistake?
[Lightfoot] I have no idea and I can’t comment on that. I know obviously the tragic result, and once we understand the magnitude of the facts we will be speaking more about it – but that’s still an involving investigation and I don’t want to get again of the investigators.
[Male Reporter 2] But for the superintendent and for you, the car was able to go from the far Southside to the northwest side back south – I know you don’t want to talk about it but was that –
[Lightfoot] No it’s not that I don’t want to talk about it, what I’m saying to you is it’s easy to say something based solely upon video, that’s not a full investigation. We have to understand the context: we’ve got to know why it was initiated; who was involved; what the reasons were; what the instructions were given by the supervisors; were lights and sirens used; were they taking precautions at intersections; and so forth. There’s a lot that goes into investigating a pursuit, particularly when it spreads over a lengthy portion of geography. We’re not there yet, and I don’t want to get ahead of that and prejudice somehow which should be an independent, just the facts, investigation. So we’re not going to talk about any of the specifics because we want to make sure we get the facts, and we get them quickly, but we get them right. And I don’t want anybody who is doing the investigation to be influenced one way or the other by something that I might say in response to questions at a press conference.
[Male Reporter 2] Who’s investigating? Is COPA investigating?
[Lightfoot] I believe that’s a major accident team within CPD. You want to comment?
Lightfoot has Roberts take over answering the question.
[Female Reporter 1] Mayor, question from Amanda Vinicky at WTTW, and also for the Suit. There are reports that armed vigilantes are patrolling Bridgeport and Amour Square and that the police are not stopping them. Is this happening now, and why is it being allowed?
[Lightfoot] We’re not allowing anyone to take up arms and take matters into their own hands. I’ve said this I think every single day this week. It is absolutely not appropriate for people to take up arms, bats, pipes, whatever, in patrolling neighborhoods. We’ve seen that and the tragic result across the country – and we’re not about to allow that practice to happen here in Chicago. If there’s an issue, call 911. I absolutely support neighbors being vigilant as to what’s going on in the streets and on the blocks, but taking up arms – that leads to chaos and we’re not supporting vigilantism in the city of Chicago under any circumstances.
Question brought up for Roberts.
[Female Reporter 1] Question from Univision, mayor, for you. Can we get an update on HILCO on the second demolition? Is there an update you can share, and when will it happen?
[Lightfoot] Yes, we’ve been very clear with members of the community now for several weeks. I believe that HILCO announced a week ago that the demolition will happen tomorrow. As far as I know, that is still the plan.
[Female Reporter 1] Thank you mayor, thank you everyone.
[Lightfoot] Okay, thank you.
Lightfoot, L. [ABC 7 Chicago]. (2020, June 4) Chicago Protests | Large Black Lives Matter protest marches through South Side [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXap-mOw6vU]. Retrieved on February 2, 2022 from https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_vFLohxs5PkAxlk7Y6jEtw.