On October 5, 2016, the City Council passed an ordinance that created Chicago’s newest agency, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) after months of public outcry over what was largely seen as an ineffective police accountability infrastructure. From that day forward, the leadership of COPA set out to create a best-in-class civilian oversight agency that lives up to its mission of conducting timely and fact-based investigations of the Chicago Police Department. With less than a year to stand up an agency (while also ensuring the continued operation of COPA’s predecessor, the Independent Police Review Authority), we immediately dove into planning for the new agency.
Over the course of the past year, leadership dove into implementing an aggressive hiring plan, creating a budget that would provide ample resources for the work of the agency, developing training for the new staff, writing (and re-writing, and re-writing, and re-writing — you get the picture) new policies, procedures and manuals for the conduct of agency operations, building out and designing new work space (while working on small renovations of existing work space), implementing an innovating reformation of our IT infrastructure (and deploying new technology in our work space), and developing partnerships with community organizations and key stakeholders throughout the City.
Whew…you know what they say….there’s no rest for the weary. All of that prep work culminated in the launch of COPA on September 15, 2017. On that day, we proudly cheered as over 80 new COPA investigators stood and took an oath to the City to uphold the mission of COPA and the ideals of police accountability. That day represented a new day for the City of Chicago.
And now…the real work begins. The work of:
- Rebuilding the community’s trust in the work we do,
- Continually ensuring we stay abreast of the best training in civilian oversight issues,
- Pushing for the necessary reform of the Chicago Police Department,
- Employing the best technology to aid in conducting our investigations, and
- Most importantly, producing quality and timely investigations.
We have gone through a lot of change over the past few weeks. We have lost three members of our leadership who were instrumental in building this agency and changing the conversation about police accountability in the City of Chicago. Change is difficult. However, this agency is built on a very strong foundation. We have employed the best and brightest for the work we do. The work will continue, new faces will continue to populate the agency and each staff member is committed to creating something that is good and sustainable for our City. We are honored to serve the citizens of Chicago each day and we look forward to continuing the good work that has started.
Annette C. Moore
Chief of Staff