Committee approves new police oversight chief

The City Council's police and fire committee today unanimously approved the appointment of a California lawyer to head the newly independent agency that oversees investigations of police misconduct.

Ilana Rosenzweig, the new appointee, spent the past six years as an attorney for the board that oversees misconduct by Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.

Rosenzweig will be the first head of the newly independent Office of Professional Standards, which investigates allegations of police brutality.

Until last month, OPS was part of the Police Department. But in the wake of a series of police misconduct episodes, including one in which officers were videotaped beating a female bartender, the City Council voted to place OPS directly under the mayor's control.

Though several committee members spoke favorably of Rosenzweig's resume, some community activists voiced concerns that Ms. Rosenzweig was from California.

The most prominent of those who opposed the appointment was Rev. Paul Jakes, pastor of Old Saint Paul Missionary Baptist Church.

Jakes said he opposes the appointment on the grounds that the new head of OPS should be someone from Chicago who knows the issues facing the police department.

Chicago civil rights attorney Larry Keenan would have been a good choice to head OPS, said Jakes.

Committee Chair Isaac Carothers (D-29th Ward) questioned whether Mr. Keenan could act independently from the civil rights groups he is involved with.

In her opening statement Rosenzweig said her main concern would be to re-establish trust between police and civilians.

Ms. Rosenzweig said she hopes to accomplish that by dealing swiftly and fairly with allegations of police misconduct.

Some committee members voiced concerns that officers  could be tarnished by unfair allegations of misconduct.

"Thorough investigations will remove the cloud" over officers that have been have been put under review by complaints from citizens, Rosenzweig said.

The full City Council will vote on Rosenzweig's appointment next week.