The City of Chicago Inspector General has nominated Deborah Witzburg for the position of Deputy Inspector General for Public Safety.
Deborah Witzburg currently serves as Associate General Counsel for Public Safety for the City of Chicago Office of the Inspector General (OIG). In this position, Witzburg has advised on legal and constitutional matters related to OIG’s oversight of Chicago’s police and police accountability agencies, as reflected in the section’s public reports and reform efforts. She previously served as Chief Investigator within the Public Safety section, where she led efforts to screen and review closed police disciplinary cases as well as evaluations of COPA, BIA, and the Police Board. Witzburg started her tenure with OIG in 2016 as an Assistant Inspector General for the Legal section, where she provided legal and strategic counsel for investigations of misconduct by City of Chicago employees.
Witzburg also worked for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, where she prosecuted a wide range of misdemeanor and felony cases as an Assistant State’s Attorney. She served in the State’s Attorney’s Community Justice Center, focusing on the vertical prosecution of cases of greatest concern in Chicago’s 11th and 12th police districts, where she helped develop and institute crime prevention programs in partnership with schools, senior citizen groups, and neighborhood organizations. Witzburg earned her JD from Northwestern University School of Law and a BA in Anthropology from Brown University.
“Deborah Witzburg’s experiences as a prosecutor working closely with police officers and in civilian oversight has provided her with a unique perspective on the deepest problems and highest virtues in policing,” said Inspector General Joe Ferguson. “The Public Safety section has undergone significant growth in the past few years; Witzburg’s literacy in law enforcement, police reform, and community engagement—along with a deep and detailed knowledge of CPD and Chicago’s accountability agencies—uniquely positions her to drive meaningful, transformational change to address the reform challenges the City is still facing.”
If confirmed by the City Council, Witzburg would succeed Joey Lipari, whose two year tenure at OIG was marked by enormous changes in the police and police reform landscape in Chicago, including significant leadership and organizational changes and restructuring, the onset of federal court monitorship, a change in Administration, and with it, a change in vision and orientation respecting reform. Amidst those changes, the Public Safety section under Lipari published foundational reviews of sensitive aspects of CPD operations of high interest to the community, including, among others, public reports on the Department’s management of School Resource Officers and the “Gang Database.”
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