The Chicago Police Accountability Task Force will not release its report today as originally planned. Late on a Friday afternoon a few weeks ago, the Task Force quietly released a statement with the news that it intended to delay the release of its report. When Mayor Emanuel created the Task Force in December, he set a deadline of March 31st to report back to him. While only a delay of a couple of weeks, the action dredges up the skepticism held by many regarding the Task Force.
As the Sun-Times cynically noted at the time:
“On the same day he bowed to pressure to fire Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday employed a time-honored tactic for Chicago mayors under siege: He announced he was creating a task force — this time on police accountability.”
The article also provided some historical content:
“Former Mayor Richard M. Daley used the task force tactic repeatedly to wiggle out of crises during his 22-year reign.”
When he made his announcement, Emanuel seemed to recognize that people might believe that this was only a ploy:
“We have to be honest with ourselves about this issue. Each time when we confronted it in the past, Chicago only went far enough to clear our consciences so we could move on,” Emanuel said.
Still, the task force was seen by many as yet another press conference sound bite that would ultimately result in yet another report that would gather dust on the shelf. After all, that was what had happened to a previous report commissioned by Emanuel just a year earlier.
The rational for the delay was laid out in the statement:
We set an initial goal to deliver our report laying out our recommendations for reform to Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago City Council by the end of March. However, we have decided that more time is needed to complete our work. We will use this additional time to further develop our findings and recommendations as well as continue to engage relevant stakeholders so that we can set the stage for meaningful and long-lasting change. We anticipate delivering the report in mid-April.
Mayor Emanuel announced the formation of the Task Force the same day he fired Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, as he tried to staunch the furor that erupted following the public release of the LaQuan McDonald shooting video.
The test now will be whether the report is released in mid-April, or is delayed further.