Chicago Police Consent Decree
Ill. AG, Chicago mayor reach agreement on draft consent decree for troubled police department
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the state attorney general, Lisa Madigan, settled on the parameters of the draft consent decree 11 months after Madigan sued the department in federal court, alleging the department engaged in a pattern and practice of civil rights violations and called for an independently-monitored reform plan to be set in place.
Among the hundreds of reforms called for in the 232-page document are new requirements that will require the department to track and analyze all foot pursuits of suspects and could potentially—if an independent monitor recommends it—force the department to rewrite its policy on chases. The draft decree also calls for the monthly publication of use of force data, forces the police department to tighten its policy on use of Tasers, and lowers the number of officers assigned supervisor.
“For decades, efforts to reform CPD have failed, resulting in a profound lack of trust between the police and the communities they serve,” Madigan said. “The consent decree will mandate reforms to ensure constitutional policing and, ultimately, make Chicago safer for residents and police officers.”
One unresolved sticking point between the Madigan and city centers on her call to require that police track every incident when an officer draws his or her firearm—a step that the city’s police officer union has complained will put officer safety at risk.
Emanuel said city lawyers and the officials from Madigan’s office are set to meet next week to further discuss their differences on the matter.
The mayor said that neither a city task force on police reform nor the Justice Department, which issued a scathing report on the Chicago Police’s practices in January 2017, brought up the issue. Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson also said he wanted to make sure that they weren’t implementing a policy that would cause a cop on the street to hesitate to protect themselves.
“Given that it’s an issue that’s important, we have to do it a right that achieves the overall goals that we’ve state,” Emanuel said. “We will work through this issue.”
Madigan pushed back that each provision in the draft decree “ensures officer safety.”
“If somebody has a gun pointed at them, you have a situation where somebody is seized,” Madigan said.
The police union has stoutly expressed its opposition to the consent decree, and has raised questions about whether Madigan had standing to bring the federal lawsuit.
“We don’t need to put hundreds of millions of dollars onto the taxpayers, when these (changes) can be done in the department and with cooperation of everyone,” said Chicago Police Union President Kevin Graham.
Madigan sued for the consent decree last year as U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions signaled that the Trump administration would resist pursuing federal oversight of local law enforcement agencies.
The Obama administration frequently sued local police departments to force reforms related to violations of excessive force, racial discrimination and other misconduct. Sessions has said consent decrees are detrimental to local policing.
The Justice Department launched an investigation of the Chicago Police Department in late 2015 following the court-ordered release of police dash cam video that showed a white officer shoot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times as he appeared to be running away from police while holding a small knife. The officer, Jason Van Dyke, was charged with first-degree murder for the death of the black teen, and is scheduled to go to trial in September.
In the final days of the Obama administration, the Justice Department issued a scathing report that detailed deep troubles in the Chicago department. Along with the report, DOJ and the city also issued “a statement of agreement” to find remedies to improve policing and to repair the public's trust in the department
The police department had already rolled out several reforms, including implementing a field training officer program for new cops, equipping all of the city’s cops with body cameras and requiring the city's more than 12,000 officers to complete mental health training.
“This report takes stock of what’s already been done but it also lays out in front of us what still needs to be done,” Emanuel said.
Chicago residents have until Aug. 17 to comment on the draft decree.
City officials and Madigan agreed earlier this year to allow activists groups, such as the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois and Black Lives Matter Chicago, to give input on the document.