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Photo: Kamil Krzaczynski via Getty Images

The Chicago City Council on Wednesday voted to establish a new civilian commission composed of publicly elected community members who will oversee the Chicago Police Department.

Why it matters: Chicago police have been the center of controversy for decades. In recent years, pressure for reform has increased when it was revealed that officers had tortured and coerced over 100 people into false confessions, and after police shot and killed Laquan McDonald, a Black teen, in 2014.

  • Though the department is under a court-mandated federal consent decree to overhaul use-of-force and accountability mechanisms, advocates say the new Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability is a faster and more direct way to regain public trust.

How it'll work: Seven community members will be elected to four-year terms on the commission starting in 2023, according to the Washington Post.

  • Two must be practicing lawyers, and others should have experience in areas like civil rights and mental health. Each commissioner will receive a $12,000 stipend.
  • They will have a say in decisions to hire or fire the police superintendent, police board members, and the chief administrator of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability.
  • The group is also tasked with developing restorative justice programs.
  • The commission's $3.5 million annual cost will come out of the police department's budget.

What they're saying: "It took two years longer than I expected, but today the Chicago City Council passed the strongest civilian oversight law in the country," City Council member Matt Martin tweeted after the vote.

  • Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who backed the ordinance but has faced criticism for waffling on police reform, called the debate "one for the ages," the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
  • "[L]egitimacy is key to the work that our police do," she said, per the Sun-Times. "If the communities do not trust them because they’re not legitimate to them, they will not be effective in their most core mission, which is serving and protecting every single resident of this city."

Worth noting: Illinois recently banned police from lying to minors during interrogations.

Go deeper

12 hours ago - Axios Denver

Denver police partnering with feds in crackdown on violent crime

llegally trafficked weapons seized by law enforcement. Photo by Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images

Denver is partnering with federal authorities to crack down on illegal firearm possession and combat rising violent crime in the city.

Why it matters: The number of deadly shootings in Denver have soared to new highs since 2020, and the spike in homicides comes coupled with an uptick in police shootings, according to a list compiled by Colorado Public Radio.

John Frank, author of Denver
12 hours ago - Axios Denver

Michael Hancock's $450M bond package faces opposition

The construction at the National Western Center in 2021. Photo: Hyoung Chang/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock's $450 million spending plan is already in trouble.

The opposition from City Council members came a day after the mayor made his pitch in the State of the City address.

  • The city leaders are disputing the entire foundation of the bond package — why it's necessary, where the money will go and whether it would benefit the community.
2 hours ago - World

Rich world’s pandemic selfishness won't be forgotten

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Scott Eisen/Getty Images

The failure of rich countries to share vaccines and financial assistance with poorer ones during the pandemic will exacerbate the rise in global poverty and could come back to bite them, Nobel Prize-winning economists Esther Duflo and Abhijit Banerjee tell Axios.

Why it matters: Duflo initially believed the pandemic would produce a “more cooperative world order” as rich countries felt compelled to show solidarity with the developing world, potentially boding well for future collaboration on issues like climate change. Now she fears the opposite.