The Chicago Council of Lawyers Urges Reappointment of Lori Lightfoot as President of the Chicago Police Board

On behalf of the Chicago Council of Lawyers, the public interest bar association that has been working for the fair and effective administration of justice for nearly 50 years, I am writing to strongly urge the reappointment of Lori Lightfoot as the President of the Chicago Police Board. Ms. Lightfoot’s term as president expires on July 29, 2017, per this ordinance provision:

Chicago Police Board President Lori Lightfoot, courtesy of Mayer Brown

Chicago Police Board President Lori Lightfoot, courtesy of Mayer Brown

“2-84-020(d). The mayor shall designate a president and a vice-president from among the members of the board. The president and vice-president shall be designated to serve in such capacity for a term not to exceed two years, and may be re-designated by the mayor to serve in such capacity for an additional term(s) not to exceed two years.”

Historically, this two-year provision has not been enforced. Demetrious Carney, the immediate past president served for 19 years and was   never officially reappointed during his tenure. Moreover, it is our understanding that Ghian Foreman, the current Vice President of the Police Board, who has served for over 4 years, has never been officially reappointed, and we are unaware of any ongoing discussions about the necessity for his reappointment.

Ms. Lightfoot has been an effective and outspoken advocate of police reform. In addition to her distinguished service as President of the Police Board, Ms. Lightfoot’s leadership as head of the Accountability Task Force garnered wide praise. Since the Task Force’s report was released on April 13, 2016, Ms. Lightfoot has worked tirelessly to ensure the report’s recommendations are adopted and implemented. Moreover, Ms. Lightfoot  recently has spoken out against the Memorandum of Agreement (“MOA”) drafted by the Mayor’s team and sent to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in lieu of a consent decree.

The Chicago Council of Lawyers believes that not reappointing Ms. Lightfoot would be a grave mistake, given the Mayor’s repeated public statements of his commitment to reform, and given what we view as Ms. Lightfoot’s positive work in that regard. The Council has heard no evidence to indicate that Ms. Lightfoot should not be reappointed due to any reasons relating to the merits of her performance. Her subject matter expertise, commitment to the hard work of reform, and her ability to get results are unparalleled.

To not reappoint her would, in the Council’s view, undermine at this critical juncture, the reform process and further damage public trust and confidence in the police department, the Police Board, and the Mayor. Her reappointment will help reassure the community that Mayor Emanuel  is truly committed to the reform of the Chicago Police Department and respects the independence of the Chicago Police Board under the leadership of Ms. Lightfoot. Given Ms. Lightfoot’s constructive criticism of the Mayor on this subject, the Council also believes that a failure to reappoint Ms. Lightfoot could be viewed as retaliatory and as an effort to silence an independent and well-regarded voice for reform.

The Chicago Council of Lawyers urges the Mayor to reappoint Ms. Lightfoot as President of the Chicago Police Board.

Sincerely,

Malcolm Rich

On behalf of the Chicago Council of Lawyers

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