From police to schools to transit, a crisis of accountability in Chicago

Jun 22, 2018 by

Curtis Black –

If Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s announcement of a splashy but half-baked project for an express line to O’Hare International Airport was intended to distract from the ongoing scandal of police misconduct lawsuits and the shocking new scandal of sexual abuse in Chicago Public Schools, it was a poor choice. The O’Hare project just underscores the very issue at the core of those scandals, an issue that runs through Emanuel’s administration – lack of accountability.

There’s a stark parallel between problems in the Chicago Police Department and CPS. In both cases, accountability systems that should have protected those being served by the agencies from mistreatment ended up protecting the bureaucracy instead of the people.

In both systems, individuals who complained were ignored and staff with long records of complaints went unchecked. In CPD, oversight investigators (until recently) sustained very few civilian complaints, supervision was lax and early intervention systems were nonfunctionalCops (and a civilian investigator) who disregarded the code of silence were punished. In CPS, the same law department investigating complaints lodged by students and parents also opposed their lawsuits in court.

The challenge of police reform is vast, but some steps have been taken to strengthen investigatory agencies – though creation of a civilian oversight body is again bogged down by a mayor who doesn’t believe in sharing power. Meanwhile, the cost of misconduct lawsuits continues to pile up.

In CPS, with a school board accountable only to the mayor, the school system has experienced one scandal after another. Emanuel’s board has failed to object to corrupt contracts or to conflicts of interest. It approved a series of cuts to school budgets and then approved a consultant’s scheme to save money on special education with reductions that turned out to be illegal. Faced with complaints that private contractors were failing to keep school buildings clean (contractors passed inspections because they were informed of them ahead of time), the board is considering expanding the contracts.

Source: From police to schools to transit, a crisis of accountability in Chicago | Chicago Reporter

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