On February 13, 2016, PII President Keith Rohman co-hosted an event at Loyola Law School featuring A.D. Sean Lewis, who spoke about civilian oversight of the Chicago Police Department. Lewis is Director of Public Policy & Legislative Affairs for the City of Chicago Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA).
Speaking to a standing-room-only crowd of students, law professors, and community policing experts, Lewis provided the backdrop for how the fatal police shooting of 17-year-old LaQuan McDonald in 2014 led the Chicago City Council to pass an ordinance aimed at improving oversight and accountability of the City’s police force.
Lewis noted that prior efforts to monitor Chicago police were plagued by lack of transparency, insufficient funding, jurisdictional limits, and inadequate training for investigators tasked with examining alleged police misconduct. According to Lewis, COPA, Chicago’s new police accountability agency, will investigate all police incidents involving firearm discharge, Taser discharge resulting in death or grievous bodily harm, and officer-involved deaths. COPA will also look into citizen complaints in several categories, including excessive force, and search and seizure violations.
The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has recently appointed a nine-member panel of Commissioners to provide similar civilian oversight of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Several members of the new panel attended Lewis’s talk including Brian Williams, the new board’s Executive Director; Robert Bonner, former U.S. Attorney and DEA Administrator; Priscilla Ocen, Associate Professor of Law at Loyola, and Sean Kennedy, Executive Director of Loyola’s Center for Juvenile Law and Policy.
Rohman is an Adjunct Professor of Law at Loyola Law School, where he and Adjunct Professor Susan Woolley teach a course on Fact Investigation. Rohman and Woolley co-sponsored the event, along with Sean Kennedy.