One week after firing Garry McCarthy as police superintendent and appointing a police task force, Mayor Rahm Emanuel hired the wife of a black businessman to investigate civilian complaints against police officers.
The mayor announced Dec. 6 that Sharon Fairley, wife of John Rogers Jr., founder and chairman of Chicago-based Ariel Investments Inc., is the new chief administrator for the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), effective immediately. She replaces Scott Ando, who resigned and was unavailable for comment.
“As an independent arbiter of allegations of police misconduct, excessive force complaints and officer-involved shootings, IPRA is a vitally important part of Chicago’s system of police accountability. Sharon brings the experience and independence to ensure that when an officer breaks the rules, they will be held accountable,” said Emanuel.
“In his four years at IPRA, Scott has taken important steps to move IPRA forward and reduce its backlog of cases. Yet it has become clear that new leadership is required as we rededicate ourselves to dramatically improving our system of police accountability and rebuilding trust in that process.”
Most recently, Fairley was first deputy and general counsel of the city’s Office of the Inspector General. Before that she was an assistant U.S. attorney for eight years.
“I am honored to have the opportunity to continue to serve the city of Chicago at this important juncture and look forward to this new challenge,” said Fairley. “The mission of IPRA is critically important, and the investigative work must be conducted with the integrity, transparency, and expeditiousness that both the officers and the citizens we serve deserve.”
According to the mayor’s office, IPRA’s backlog of aging cases, specifically those over three years old, which was once as high as 325 in 2010, was reduced to 32 by December 31, 2014. Currently the backlog stands at 26 with caseloads for investigators cut to eight from as much as 35 just two years ago.
These recent changes follow the release of a dashboard-cam police video that showed the shooting death of a 20-year-old Laquan McDonald by former Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, who was fired last month for the October 2014 incident.
The Cook County State’s Attorney Office charged Van Dyke with first-degree murder two weeks ago.
And the U.S. Justice Department is reportedly set to launch an investigation into practices of the Chicago Police Department.
McCarthy was unavailable for comment.