On Friday, Chicago’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) opens for business, with expanded powers, more investigators and a bigger caseload than its notoriously ineffective predecessor, the Independent Police Review Authority. The ordinance that created COPA appointed an inspector general for public safety to audit its work and gave it broader jurisdiction to investigate Taser discharges and civil rights complaints such as illegal search, false arrest and denial of counsel.
The two agencies aren’t as different as critics had wanted; among other things, the city-appointed COPA falls short of the elected oversight body demanded by racial justice groups after the Laquan McDonald scandal. Another reform that didn’t happen was transferring oversight of rape investigations to COPA. Consequently, when a Chicago police officer is accused of rape, another Chicago police officer will still lead the investigation, despite objections from sexual assault advocates and lawmakers interviewed by In These Times. [READ MORE]