Chicago police watchdog beefs up staff, pledges transparency

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 04, 2016 5:39 PM

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The new chief of the discredited watchdog agency that oversees Chicago's 12,000-strong police force on Monday announced a shakeup aimed at improving investigations into police shootings, allegations of misconduct and use of excessive force.

Sharon Fairley, a former federal prosecutor, was named head of the Independent Police Review Authority, or IPRA, after the former director was fired in December by Mayor Rahm Emanuel because of public outcry over police killings in the city.

The agency was formed in 2007 to investigate problems at Chicago's police force, which has a long history of complaints of abuse and brutality. It has been plagued by budget and staffing shortages, and has been criticized for taking a long time to investigate police shootings and finding almost all of the justified.

Fairley said she hired a new chief of staff and chief investigator and was recruiting four lawyers to fortify legal oversight of the agency's investigations.

She said she would also increase IPRA's contact with Chicagoans over the changes needed in the police department. However, she said she has been given no budget increase for the body.

(Reporting by Fiona Ortiz; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)