Mayor Rahm Emanuel today announced he has nominated Lori Lightfoot, a former federal prosecutor with experience in public safety, as the next chair of the Chicago Police Board – the civilian body that gives residents a voice in the police disciplinary process. Lightfoot replaces Demetrius Carney, the current chair of the Police Board.
“The Police Board is a unique and important body that provides residents with a voice in the police disciplinary process, ensuring it is not only fair and transparent but also that it works for the people of Chicago and our officers,” said Mayor Emanuel.” As a former federal prosecutor, and with a deep background in public safety, Lori Lightfoot brings an important perspective and a record of impartiality to Chicago’s Police Board that will serve our city well. Demetrius Carney has devoted his time and his energy to the people of Chicago and to the Police Board for years, and I want to thank him for his service to our city.”
Lightfoot, a partner with the law firm Mayer Brown, has served in numerous key governmental roles, including as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Criminal Division of the Northern District of Illinois, as General Counsel and Chief of Staff at the Chicago Office of Emergency Management, and as Chief Administrator at the Office of Professional Standards – the internal Police Department organization that investigated allegations of excessive force and misconduct prior to 2007 when the City created the independent investigative agency – the Independent Police Review Authority.
“The Police Board serves the entire city – residents and officers alike – and exists to give our residents a voice in the disciplinary system while ensuring it is fair and transparent for everyone,” said Lightfoot. “I am honored the Mayor asked me to take on this important role and look forward to serving the people of Chicago."
Demetrius Carney steps down after serving as Chair of the Police Board since 1996 during which time he has considered more than 13,000 police discipline cases and worked to ensure the Board carries out its responsibilities with impartiality, due process, and transparency while providing a forum for residents to voice their concerns.
The Police Board, which is comprised of nine members – none of whom are former law enforcement members – is part of Chicago’s extensive civilian participation in the investigatory and disciplinary process for police officers. The Police Board, CPD, IPRA, the civilian-led, independent investigative body that has become a model for departments around the country, have different roles in that process. The responsibility to receive complaints of alleged police misconduct rests with IPRA. The Police Board has the responsibility to decide cases when the Superintendent of Police files charges to terminate an officer or suspend an officer for more than thirty days; review, upon the request of an officer, a suspension of six to thirty days; and decide matters in which IPRA and CPD do not agree on the level of discipline for a police officer.
The Police Board is committed to promoting transparency and ensuring that it is accessible to all Chicagoans. The hearings of disciplinary cases before the Board are open to the public, and the schedule of upcoming hearings is listed on our website. The Board’s decisions in these cases, which include detailed reasons for its findings, are also posted on their website. These measures promote accountability and increase police officers’ and the public’s confidence in the process for handling allegations of police misconduct.