The Empowering Communities for Public Safety (ECPS) ordinance has passed through the Chicago City Council.
This is a historic win. By passing ECPS, Chicago has created the strongest system of civilian oversight of police that exists anywhere in the country. ECPS is the result of years of work from JCUA members, our coalition partners, and the residents of Chicago. After working with the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability (GAPA), our coalition joined forces with the coalition behind the Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC) to create a unified ordinance called Empowering Communities for Public Safety (ECPS). We now have a system that provides communities a meaningful voice and power in determining what policing, policy, and reform in Chicago looks like, by:
- Creating a Community Commission on Public Safety: The Community Commission will be a seven-member body, nominated by elected community members, selected by the Mayor, and confirmed by the City Council. The Commission will have the power to select and remove the COPA chief administrator, call a vote of no-confidence on the Police Superintendent and Police Board president, set police department policy, and promote engagement and transparency.
- Creating District Councils: District Councils will be created in each of the City’s 22 police districts, and will be made of up three people elected in regular municipal elections. District Councils will work with the community to get input on police department policies and practices, hold monthly meetings to hear the concerns of their constituents, and play a role in nominating members of the Community Commission.
We’re excited to participate in the next steps of this campaign. The ECPS coalition will be working on creating an effective interim commission and seeking out candidates for District Council in the February 2023 elections. We’re thrilled with this incredible win, and are committed to continuing the fight to reimagine public safety.
past police accountability campaigns
Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability (GAPA)
In the summer of 2016, a coalition of community organizations formed the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability (GAPA). GAPA came together in direct response to the Police Accountability Task Force’s recommendation to develop a Community Oversight Board, allowing the community to have a powerful platform and role in the police oversight system. In November and December of 2016, JCUA joined GAPA organizations as they brought together 1,700 Chicagoans across 30 wards for police accountability community conversations.
Born from these conversations, the GAPA ordinance was introduced to City Council in March of 2018. The GAPA ordinance did the following:
- Creates democratically-elected district councils for each police district: 3 members from each district will work to engage the community and police and have a voice in determining community policing strategies on a district-level.
- Creates the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability: This commission has the power to help select and remove key leadership positions as well as to develop and approve Police Department policy, including policies related to use of force and de-escalation.
The best practices and pieces of the former GAPA ordinance were integrated into the Empowering Communities for Public Safety (ECPS) ordinance as part of the powerful joint coalition with the Civilian Police Accountability Council (CPAC).
Coalition for Police Contracts Accountability (CPCA)
For decades, the Chicago Police Department has had a “code of silence” that allows officers to hide misconduct. Our city’s police union contracts effectively make this “code of silence” official policy. The Coalition for Police Contracts Accountability (CPCA) has identified several contract provisions that discourage people from filing complaints, make it easy for officers to conceal the truth, and that obstruct investigations into claims of misconduct. JCUA is a full member of CPCA and endorses their 14 recommendations for a new police union contract. Read the recommendations.
WHY IS JCUA INVOLVED
Our Jewish community is diverse, and some of us have stake in this issue because the color of our skin or where we live means we are more likely to face police misconduct. Some of us are compelled by this issue because of our history. Jews around the world descend from people that experienced state sanctioned violence, including pogroms, inquisitions, and genocide. Some of us feel these consequences as social workers, lawyers, and community organizers with relationships to heavily policed and systemically divested communities. As Jews, we feel we must take a stand because our tradition teaches us that all people are created in the image of God. To stay silent in the face of such injustice endangers our own humanity.