There’s going to be a new office on the ballot for Chicago’s 2023 municipal election. Called police District Councils, these three-member entities will be responsible for building stronger connections between police and the community, holding public meetings and meeting with community members to get their input on police department strategies and practices. 

For the first time, residents across the city will elect members to the councils representing their police districts, just as they elect an alderperson to represent their wards. There are 22 Chicago police districts.

This new city office was born out of last year’s historic Chicago City Council vote to create a new model for police oversight, accountability and public safety. The approved Empowering Communities for Public Safety (ECPS) ordinance created two bodies: a city-wide Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability (CCPSA) and the police District Councils. 

On Aug. 29, Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced the interim members of the CCPSA. Of the 14 candidates nominated by the Chicago City Council, Lightfoot chose seven to serve on the interim commission until the summer or fall of 2023. That’s when the newly-elected members of the police District Councils will nominate 14 candidates for the permanent commission. The mayor then will choose seven, and the Chicago City Council must confirm them.

Anyone interested in running for a police District Council seat will have until Nov. 28 to collect between 300 and 700 signatures, depending on the number of registered voters in each police district. 

“There are 22 police districts. In every district, there will be three different people elected to serve as a representative for that police district. So that’s 66 people tasked with public safety and accountability for the police in their specific area,” LaCreshia Birts told The TRiiBE on July 26. She is a coordinator at the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability (GAPA), a citywide broad-based coalition of community organizations that works to improve public safety, police practices and police accountability. 

“That’s powerful to have that many people taking on that role and thinking about public safety,” she added.

For Chicago, with its decades-long history of police misconduct and abuse, the CCPSA is a step in the right direction. CPD is still under a federal consent decree, a court-mandated overhaul of the department’s policies. The 2014 murder of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by former Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke sparked an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice which, in a 2017 report, revealed decades of racist police misconduct and use of excessive force by CPD.

Enacted in 2019, the consent decree was supposed to last for five years. In March, it was extended out to eight years. The early years of the consent decree were beset by missed deadlines and lagging compliance, according to WTTW

“The police district councils will provide a strong policymaking body that we can use to change police policies,” Frank Chapman told The TRiiBE on Aug. 9. He’s the national director of the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression (CAARPR) and a member of the ECPS coalition that developed the ordinance. 

Chapman said the ordinance’s passage gives Chicago communities a say in how they’re policed. This is especially important for Black and brown people who disproportionately experience police crimes and abuse.

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What are the CCPSA’s powers?

The ECPS ordinance created two entities: a citywide Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability (CCPSA) and police District Councils. 

The commission can evaluate the performance of the police superintendent, any member of the police board, or the COPA chief administrator. In addition, the commission can recommend candidates for police superintendent and the Chicago Police Board, but the mayor still retains the power to hire and fire the police superintendent and Chicago Police Board members. However, the commission does have the power to hire and fire the COPA head. 

The commission can also vote on police department policies, review and recommend changes to CPD’s budget before City Council vote, establish goals and evaluate the progress of the police superintendent and CPD, chief administrator, COPA, the Chicago Police Board president and the police board members. 

Beginning in the summer or fall of 2023, elected community members that serve on police District Councils will nominate 14 candidates to serve on the permanent commission. Then the Mayor will choose seven of them. They must be confirmed by the City Council.

A full listing of the commission’s powers can be found here

Who makes up the current seven-member interim CCPSA? 

According to a written press release, Lightfoot selected interim commissioners based on their professional experience, community leadership, experience with the criminal legal system and ability to work collaboratively with others. Commissioners will serve four-year terms and receive a stipend of $12,000 per year. The president of the commission who will be selected by the commissioners will receive a stipend of $15,000 per year. 

“I’m very happy that of the seven the Mayor picked, four are members of our [ECPS] coalition. Four of the individuals are on the frontlines of fighting for this civilian oversight ordinance. And so to me, that tells me they are right for this interim commission,” Ald. Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (35th Ward) said during a press conference at City Hall on Aug. 30. Ramirez-Rosa is one of the ordinance’s sponsors. 

Below are more details about the interim community commission members. 

Anthony Driver Jr.

A community activist and public affairs specialist.

South Side resident.

Previously served as the Political & Legislative Coordinator for SEIU Healthcare IL

Lead organizer for the Raise Chicago Coalition, where he advocated for raising the Chicago minimum wage to $15.

Driver has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Howard University. 

Oswaldo Gomez

A West Side resident.

Community organizer and a youth/emerging adult representative on the CCPSA.

Graduate student at the University of Chicago, pursuing a degree in public policy.

Worked extensively with the GAPA and ECPS Coalition to create the CCPSA

He grew up in Humboldt Park and has seen firsthand the need for civilian oversight. 

He hopes to encourage young people to engage in the ongoing conversations on police reform and to set the foundation for a successful oversight system for years to come. 

Rev. Dr. Beth Brown

A North Side resident.

A pastor in the Presbyterian Church for the past 30 years and is currently the pastor at Lincoln Park Presbyterian Church.

As a pastor, she has worked on justice issues relating to mental health, public safety, community organizing, civil rights, and advocacy on behalf of marginalized populations. 

As a queer pastor, she has advocated for LGBTQIA+ people inside and outside of the church for over 20 years.

She is a passionate advocate for police reform. She believes that the police department and officers need to be held accountable at every level by creating policies and procedures about public safety and accountability. 

Yvette Loizon

Partner at Clifford Law Offices. Former Assistant State’s Attorney with extensive legal and public service experience.

South Side resident.

Served as Chief Legal Counsel to the Illinois State Police. She was responsible for supporting numerous public safety initiatives and ensuring law enforcement accountability in civil, criminal, and administrative contexts.

A 20-year resident of Beverly and a mother of four children, she is deeply connected to the concerns raised by Chicagoans citywide.    

She is committed to fostering enhanced confidence and trust in law enforcement and those who make decisions related to law enforcement practices. 

Cliff Nellis

West Side resident

Founder and Executive Director of the Lawndale Christian Legal Center (LCLC).

In 2009, Cliff Nellis moved into the North Lawndale community and helped found the Lawndale Christian Legal Center with the mission of providing integrated legal and social services to court-involved youth.

Lives in North Lawndale with his three children.

Remel Terry

West Side resident.

Community leader.

Currently, she serves as the 2nd Vice President of the Chicago Westside NAACP.

She has also partnered with various grassroots organizations to address issues of inequity in legislation and enforcement, economic advancement, education, American legal system reform, health, affordable housing and political action. 

Isaac Troncoso

North Side resident.

He will serve as the community advocate youth/emerging adult representative on the commission.

He seeks to amplify the voices of young people in the policymaking space and give them a collective seat at the table. 

Through his time working on Chicago-area political campaigns, and in his nonprofit volunteering and Board service, Troncoso has worked with Chicagoans from across the city, from a diverse array of backgrounds. 

He has worked with small business owners and youth affected by our criminal justice system.

Understanding the role of police District Councils 

The ECPS ordinance also creates three-member district councils for the city’s 22 police districts. Members of the councils will be elected by residents who reside in the district during the 2023 Chicago municipal elections. 

District Council members have four-year terms. They will work directly with the police district and report their findings to the commission. Most important of the District Council’s powers is the ability to nominate members for the commission. 

“These are elected positions. They can only be elected by people who live in the police district. So we have to go all out to ensure that our people are adequately represented in these councils,” Chapman said. 

District Council members’ responsibilities include: building stronger connections between police and the community and at the police district level, collaborating in the development and implementation of community policing initiatives, holding public meetings, meeting with community members to get their input on police department strategies and practices, creating and expanding restorative justice and other programs in the police district, and more. 

District Council members may require a time commitment of about 20 hours per month and receive a monthly $500 stipend. 

A full description of the District Council’s duties can be found here

Interested in running for a police District Council seat? Here’s what you should know

Signature collection for candidates interested in running for any office in the Chicago municipal elections began on Aug. 30. Candidates must submit signed nominating petitions to the Chicago Board of Election Commissioners between Nov. 21, 2022, and Nov. 28, 2022. 

For those interested in running for a seat on the police District Council, the specific eligibility requirements are: 

  • You must be a registered voter
  • You must have lived in the police district where you want to run for at least one year before the election
  • You can’t be a member of the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability
  • You can’t have been an employee of the Chicago Police Department, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA), or the Chicago Police Board any time since May 2020
  • Under state law, you can’t owe money to the City of Chicago or have been convicted of a felony unless it was expunged
  • You will need between 300 and 700 signatures depending on the number of registered voters in each police district.

More detailed information about the 2023 municipal election and calendar can be found on the Chicago Board of Elections website or here

Chapman and the CAARPR have hosted free weekly virtual ECPS candidate training workshops since last December to educate Chicago residents about the ECPS ordinance, the CCPSA and the police District Council elections. 

The classes are hosted weekly on Saturdays at 9:00 AM. Chapman said ECPS candidate workshops will go through to January 2023. Registration for the ECPS candidate workshops can be found here

“We’ve already trained over 130-some-odd people. We already got about 19 of those people that have decided to throw their hats into the ring. They want to be candidates,” he said.

is a multimedia producer for The TRiiBE.