One big step for city government… and a giant leap for police accountability.

I am so excited today! This milestone has been over a year in the making. Our leadership team started working on plans for building the new agency as soon as the Police Accountability Task Force recommended, and Mayor Emanuel agreed, that the City needed to create a completely new civilian oversight agency in order to achieve true reform for police accountability.

The community’s concerns were loud and clear.  Chicagoans had lost confidence in IPRA and were angry and frustrated. This new agency could NOT be just an IPRA reboot. We knew going in that we could NOT repeat that past.  So our leadership team set out to truly build something new from the ground up.  Everything about COPA is new … from who we are … to what we do…. to how we do it.  COPA has hired some seriously talented and experienced investigators.  Our national recruiting effort paid off, we had over 1000 applicants for our investigative positions. We recruited only experienced investigators and put them through the paces to make sure they have the skills and experience COPA needs to be successful.  Our new teammates have already brought a level of energy and enthusiasm to our mission that is frankly, just unstoppable.

In addition to bringing in new talent, we have spent the past few months designing and drafting COPA policies and protocols so that every COPA employee knows the rules of the road and the right way to conduct police misconduct investigations. Every policy…every manual… has been designed and written to reflect best practices in police oversight.  Plus, now that we have the resources to fully support our mission, we have implemented what we believe is the most comprehensive training program of any civilian oversight agency. All of our Investigative and Legal staff members completed COPA Academy, our weeks-long training program on investigative skills, strategies, legal concepts, and hands-on policing issues.

Today, all of that work has come together and we are ready to get COPA off the ground. You can feel the energy just by walking our halls.  We could not have gotten to this point without a lot of help.  Kudos to the Department of Fleet and Facilities Management for building out our work space with the equipment and space we need to fulfill our mission.  Many thanks to the Department of Human Resources for helping us recruit and hire our talented staff.  A huge thank you to the Department of Innovation & Technology for the many man hours they have put in to get our IT infrastructure updated and on its way to full independence from the Chicago Police Department.  Much gratitude goes to the Department of Family and Support Services, with whom we share our environs, and who graciously gave up space so we could accommodate our larger staff.

But, the real thanks go to the Administration and City Council for stepping up to the plate and empowering the new agency with the powers and resources that are necessary for effective police accountability.