Mayor Lightfoot’s policing ordinance takes the community out of community oversightLetters to the Editoron June 1, 2021 at 6:30 pm

Mayor Lori Lightfoot.
Contrary to what the Sun-Times asserts in its recent editorial, the mayor’s proposal is not consistent with what activists have demanded, a UIC professor writes. | Pat Nabong/Sun-Times

The mayor’s proposal creates a temporary commission that she will largely hand-select. Mayoral control over policing is consistent with the status quo, and the status quo has been a disaster.

The Sun-Times last week endorsed Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s plan for civilian oversight over the Chicago Police Department. This endorsement is based on two faulty premises.

First, contrary to what the Sun-Times asserts in its editorial, the mayor’s proposal is not consistent with what activists have demanded. This is because the mayor’s ordinance takes the community out of community oversight. The mayor’s proposal creates a temporary commission that she will largely hand-select. This temporary commission, controlled by mayoral appointees, will likely retain power for a long time because Mayor Lightfoot’s ordinance will not create a permanent commission that is selected with true community input unless state law is changed. Thus, without a change in state law, the commission responsible for providing oversight over CPD is likely to largely be an extension of the mayor and not representative of communities most impacted by police violence.

SEND LETTERS TO: letters@suntimes.com. Please include your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes. Letters should be approximately 350 words or less.

Second, the Sun-Times argues that the mayor must retain control over key policing policy and personnel decisions because ultimately the mayor will be held responsible by voters for policing failures. This position misses the mark. Mayoral control over these areas is consistent with the status quo and the status quo has been a disaster. CPD is currently under a federal consent decree because the Department of Justice found that it had engaged in a pattern or practice of unconstitutional policing. Under this mayor’s leadership, CPD has consistently missed consent decree deadlines.

Moreover, while the mayor may be held responsible electorally for a spike in crime, those who truly suffer from both crime and police misconduct are the people of this city. For these reasons, the people should have a much greater say in how are they policed.

Therefore, City Council should pass the Empowering Communities for Public Safety Ordinance, not the mayor’s proposal.

Aaron Gottlieb, Jane Addams School of Social Work, University of Illinois at Chicago
Member, Chicago Consent Decree Use of Force Working Group

Why no amendment on pension reform?

It amazes me how the state Legislature passed an amendment to put collective bargaining rights into the Illinois Constitution, and that it will not be diminished by any future law (sound familiar?), apparently to appease the unions. But legislators have not been able to manage an amendment to fix the employee pension problems.

I hope that the voters in 2022 will see through our legislators’ devious scheme.

Mario Caruso, Lincoln Square

Teach the truth about voter suppression

Winston Churchill, while paraphrasing the philosopher Santayana, said ’those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” So many Republican-led states, trying desperately to suppress the vote, are now trying to leave out important eras of American history. By avoiding controversial topics like past racism, slavery and Jim Crow, teachers are being forced to lie to students. How can today’s students become tomorrow’s informed electorate without knowing the history of voter suppression in this country?

I was lucky enough to have taught American history and political science in a high school district (Riverside-Brookfield) for almost four decades. My immediate bosses and school boards even allowed me to create an elective class that dealt with recent Chicago history. That class included much discussion about racism. Teenagers love controversy and they love learning that their past presidents and heroes were flawed human beings. They also love thinking for themselves and coming to their own conclusions. But they cannot do that unless they are armed with all the facts, no matter how unpleasant or divisive the adults around them think they are.

If teaching the truth in these states will get them fired, teachers should consider moving to a state that welcomes debate. The purpose of a well -ounded education is to create good citizens. That cannot be done if teachers are censored.

Jan Goldberg, Riverside

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