Draft of reforms for Chicago police unveiled
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Friday announced a draft consent decree that will be part of federal court oversight of sweeping reforms to the city’s troubled police department.
Madigan and Emanuel stood together during a press conference to unveil the more than 200-page proposal that grew out of months of negotiations between the city and the nation’s third largest police department.
The draft will now be open for public comment and possible revision, according to a website set up by the attorney general’s office to explain the consent decree. A federal judge will ultimately decide whether to approve and oversee it.
The announcement came nearly one year after the state attorney general filed a lawsuit asking a federal court to stop the city’s police department from engaging in what the lawsuit claimed was a “pattern of using excessive force” and other discriminatory misconduct against Chicago’s African-American and Latino residents.
“This agreement will stand the test of time,” Emanuel told reporters Friday. “It is enforceable, sustainable and durable.”
The proposed consent decree, the latest in a series of decades long efforts to reform the department, is to be enforced by a federal judge. Madigan said the reforms will include use of force among officers and de-escalation tactics, supervision and accountability as well as community policing and recruitment.
Consent decrees involving police departments are court-enforced settlements aimed at reforming departments where Justice Department civil rights investigations found evidence of a “pattern or practice” of biased policing on a wide scale.
“The importance of a consent decree is that it will require the city and CPD to prove to a federal judge that they have achieved the required reforms,” Madigan said.
“In addition, an independent monitor, who will be appointed by the federal judge, will continuously evaluate the city’s and CPD’s progress toward reform.”
Fraternal Order of Police President Kevin Graham, in a statement, said the proposed decree “is politically motivated and threatens both public safety and the well-being of our members.”
“The consent decree, which is wholly unnecessary, would also cost tax payers hundreds of millions of dollars,” he said.
The statement added, “It is important to note that we, the FOP, have tried to work with the Attorney General and they refused to listen to us.
“On the other hand, AG Lisa Madigan is more than willing to listen to the input of fiercely anti-police groups like Black Lives Matter and the American Civil Liberties Union.”
Emanuel had been in the process of working with the Justice Department on police reforms at the end of the Obama administration but his administration hit a stalemate with Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Madigan said she filed her lawsuit after Sessions declared that policing matters should be left to state and local officials.
“No one is happy about the state of public safety in Chicago — not the residents and not the police,” she said. “Too many Chicago residents do not feel safe in their communities but also do not feel safe calling the police.”
A Justice Department report during the Obama administration described a pattern of excessive force and racially discriminatory policing that resulted from “systemic deficiencies in training and accountability, including the failure to train officers in de-escalation and the failure to conduct meaningful investigations of uses of force.”
Sessions has expressed skepticism of federally-mandated police reform measures, especially the use of consent decrees.
The fatal police shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald prompted the Justice Department to launch its Chicago investigation in 2015 after the case spurred protests and helped fuel a national conversation about officers’ use of deadly force.
McDonald, a black teen, was shot 16 times as he walked away from officers in October 2014. His death didn’t attract wide attention outside Chicago until 13 months later when a judge ordered the release of dashboard camera footage that contradicted officers’ accounts of the shooting.