Opening Statement of Tobara Richardson, 2022 Public Safety Committee Nomination, September 16, 2022
To Chairman Taliaferro, Vice Chair Osterman, and Members of the Public Safety Committee:
Thank you for your time and consideration. It is an honor to be nominated for the position of Chicago’s Deputy Inspector General for Public Safety. I am confident that my diverse skills and experiences have prepared me to successfully lead in this position.
I am genuinely excited to contribute to the progress in policing, public safety, and police accountability. My leadership in this position will continue the improvement of public safety for residents, while also improving the environment for officers who are committed to serving and protecting. Facilitating a culture of productive relationships between law enforcement and the communities, where officers serve the residents of Chicago through a system of transparency, will increase public safety in Chicago.
As a professional, I worked with law enforcement for over a decade serving as a local and federal criminal prosecutor. Those positions allowed me to observe law enforcement perform their duties as they used different methods. Those perspectives also allowed me to compare the different methods as they pertain to public safety, community relations, and legal considerations, including respecting constitutional rights. I will bring these perspectives with me as I serve our city.
I have not only investigated and prosecuted cases, but I have been intimately involved with crime prevention and problem solving. While at the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office’s Community Justice Center, I collaborated with law enforcement, community organizations, schools, and seniors to develop creative ways to address some of the community’s most pressing public safety problems and concerns. While at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, again, I not only prosecuted cases, but I participated in Re-entry Court and Project Safe Neighborhood. I was able to see and interact with individuals after they had served time. This provided me with a view of our criminal justice system and how it functions from beginning to end. I will bring these experiences with me as I serve our city.
As Counsel to the Attorney General, I serve the residents of Illinois and proactively work with law enforcement. I lead teams to address policy matters, collaborating with law enforcement and Illinois stakeholders. I study the interplay of daily necessities from housing and health care to environmental justice. I also represent the Attorney General on boards, commissions, councils, and committees. Each of my teams determines the data to be obtained, analyzes the data, presents the data, and develops recommendations based on our available tools to address issues presented by the data. Accordingly, my current work points to me as a natural fit to serve as Chicago’s Deputy Inspector General for Public Safety. City of Chicago Office of Inspector General.
During my career, I have taught other attorneys and law students locally, nationally, and internationally. This year through the Attorney General Alliance – Africa, I was a facilitator in a trial advocacy training for seventy attorneys in South Africa. This allowed me to reflect on how others deal with similar issues and compare our litigation systems. I will bring my diverse professional background with me as I serve our city, understanding that people do not live, and officers do not serve and protect in a vacuum.
As a lifelong resident of Chicago, I have not only interacted with law enforcement as a prosecutor, but I have also interacted with law enforcement in a non-work capacity and observed other Chicago residents interacting with CPD. The experience of working with and observing law enforcement both professionally and personally allows me to consider the investigations and continued improvements of policies, practices, and trainings from a unique perspective. I know what it means to have law enforcement do their job the right way and be able to prosecute cases and pursue those who need help, punishment, or time away from society. I also know what it means to hold law enforcement accountable for abuse and to be able to maintain and further public trust. I will bring my understanding of both ends of the spectrum with me as I serve our city.
I bring my full self to this position. I am a person experienced at working with law enforcement, and I am also a part of Chicago and have experience collaborating with the communities we serve. Communities consist of law enforcement and residents working together to address public safety. I know what it means to have people come together—people of different races, ethnicities, genders, sexual orientations, religions, generations, and abilities—both civilians and law enforcement, to say we have the same goal: that is the goal of public safety. I know what it means to come together in a beat meeting, taking action and doing each of our parts to achieve that goal. Policing, public safety, and police accountability go hand-in-hand and are not mutually exclusive. I bring the spirit of collaboration with me as I serve our city. I have served our county, our country, and our state.
I have worked with law enforcement my entire career and found opportunities to collaborate with our communities in the process. I love Chicago – plain and simple. I have attended and graduated from Chicago Public Schools. I stayed here for college, moving from the west side to the south side. Then, I decided to stay here for law school, ultimately living in Hyde Park for a total of six years. I spent half of my summer after the first year of law school at a large law firm in Houston, but I made my way back to Chicago and remained here deciding to use my gifts and talents for the home team.
I am proud of this opportunity. It would be an honor to use my legal background, my practical skills, and my genuine passion for the work to contribute to the goal of public safety and the continued greatness of our beloved city.
Thank you, again.