Before COPA closes out the year, I would like to take this time to reflect upon 2017 and review what’s next in 2018.
As a recently retired judge with over 45 years of legal experience, I dedicated my work to improve access to justice for the residents of Cook County. This included establishing a division within the Circuit Court of Cook County which addressed issues of elder abuse, neglect, self-neglect and financial exploitation.
Despite numerous decades of work as a judge I am honored, humbled and proud to have been selected to lead this new agency as the Interim Chief Administrator. I would like to thank all the talented staff at COPA for working hard this year to serve the citizens of Chicago.
Over the course of the year, COPA has faced both challenges and victories. Launching a new city agency, managing the backlog of investigations from IPRA to COPA and working hard to build the community’s trust has been a challenge this year. However, I am proud of the accomplishments we’ve achieved this year. We have hired more than 120 highly qualified people, we’re closing cases in a timely manner, most videos have been released within 60 days, a majority of our news coverage has been fair, and we have met or surpassed our operational 2017 goals.
As we move forward in 2018 and this first full year as the civilian oversight agency of CPD, the leadership team of COPA will focus on the following main initiatives:
- Building and maintain a new case management system that is independent of, yet integrative with, CPD’s data and software platforms, which allows for more timely investigations and data transparency.
- Building a new records management facility for the storage of the Independent Police Review Authority’s (IPRA) and COPA’s investigative files and the development of a new records management process to facilitate easy access to COPA investigative files.
- Opening fully functioning satellite offices in neighborhoods where there is a high volume of police interactions to facilitate the making of police misconduct complaints.
- Expanding COPA’s mediation program through the hiring of a Director of Mediation who will oversee the coordination of mediations between CPD officers and complainants.
- Continuing the professional development of COPA’s staff through the continued refinement of curriculum for COPA Academy, a 6-8-week onboarding academy for new investigative and legal staff.
- Managing and addressing the backlog of investigations transferred from IPRA to COPA in 2017 by engaging outside counsel to assist in the review and disposition of cases and establishing additional avenues for case closure including a robust mediation program.
- Engaging the community through a robust community outreach plan that includes educating the public on COPA’s mission and the work of the agency. This includes creating new and innovative avenues for the public to submit complaints to our office, and building strategic partnerships with public sector agencies and not-for-profits to develop programming aimed at communities most impacted by police misconduct.
COPA thanks the City Council and the Administration for providing us with the new powers and resources that are necessary for effective police accountability. It has been a pleasure the last couple of months of this year to help COPA remain a best-in-class police oversight agency. I am excited and look forward to continuing the good work that we have started in 2018.
Thanks to everyone that has played a role in COPA’s successes this year and have a wonderful holiday season.
Interim Chief Administrator Patricia Banks