Mayor Lightfoot reportedly appointing Deborah Witzburg as city’s new inspector general

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CHICAGO (CBS) — More than five months after former Chicago Inspector General Joseph Ferguson stepped down as the city’s top watchdog, Mayor Lori Lightfoot reportedly is set to name his former top deputy to replace him.

According to multiple published reports, Lightfoot will appoint former deputy inspector general for public safety Deborah Witzburg as the city’s new inspector general. 

Lightfoot declined to confirm or deny the reports at an unrelated news conference Wednesday afternoon, but suggested a formal announcement is coming on Thursday.

"I’m not going to get ahead of any announcement that may or may not be happening tomorrow," Lightfoot said.

Witzburg began working at the Office of Inspector General in 2016, and was named deputy inspector general for public safety — the office’s No. 2 position — in 2019. She resigned from that post in early November to avoid any possible conflict of interest as she applied to replace Ferguson as inspector general.

"Because OIG’s Public Safety section oversees and makes recommendations to City departments including the Office of the Mayor, it is my responsibility to avoid any appearance or concern that the work of the section might be influenced by my candidacy for a mayoral appointment and that its independence might therefore be impaired," she wrote in her resignation letter.

Ferguson announced his plans to resign last July, saying he was giving Lightfoot and the City Council more than 100 days’ notice to conduct a national search for his successor before his term expired on Oct. 15, but it wasn’t until September that a formal search process began. The office is currently being managed by interim inspector general William Marback.

During her time as deputy inspector general for public safety, Witzburg led several key investigations and audits of the Chicago Police Department, including a report that found ShotSpotter alerts rarely lead police to evidence of an actual gun crime, one that found CPD search warrants target Black men more than 4.5 times more often than anyone else, and one that found CPD was slow to make recommended changes to the body camera program.

She also urged the City Council to approve an ordinance that would create a database of all complaints filed against Chicago Police officers, but that effort stalled last May, after Ferguson slammed an apparent compromise between Lightfoot and the City Council as insufficient.

Witzburg’s expected appointment as inspector general must be submitted to the City Council for confirmation.

via CBS News

March 30, 2022 at 04:58PM

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