Chicago Moves Forward With Much Needed Comprehensive Policing Reform Efforts

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Chicago — Attorney General Lisa Madigan, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson released yesterday a draft consent decree for the Chicago Police Department (CPD) that will require enforceable police reform. The draft consent decree is the result of months of negotiations by Madigan’s office, the City of Chicago and CPD, and engagement with Chicago communities, organizations and police officers

Under the draft consent decree, Madigan is seeking sustainable reforms of CPD’s policies, practices, training and accountability mechanisms to address use of force, discriminatory policing, improve public safety and build trust between CPD and Chicago’s residents. The draft consent decree will ultimately be a court order enforced by a federal judge. The judge will be assisted by an independent monitor, who will continually evaluate CPD’s progress to implement reforms required by the consent decree until the City and CPD achieve full and effective compliance.

As part of the process of drafting the consent decree, Madigan engaged members of the community and law enforcement for their feedback and input on police reform. Madigan’s office held 14 community roundtables across the city and reviewed feedback from residents through paper and online feedback forms. Madigan’s office also held 13 focus groups with CPD officers of all ranks. In conjunction with the release of the draft consent decree, Madigan also released reports that summarize and include all the comments received from Chicago residents and police officers during this engagement process.

“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.”

“Reform and public safety go hand-in-hand, and today Chicago is taking an important next step, but not our final step, on the road to reform and the journey to a safer, stronger Chicago,” said Mayor Emanuel. “This agreement will help ensure Chicago police officers have the training, resources and support they need to do their difficult jobs and help rebuild the bonds of trust, respect and understanding between officers and the communities they serve.”

“This consent decree represents our future – with an emphasis on 21st century training, stronger community partnerships, enhanced supervisory leadership, as well as emotional support and resources for police officers so they can effectively safeguard and strengthen our city,” said Superintendent Eddie Johnson. “Once finalized, CPD will work aggressively to implement the reforms embedded in the document, which will fundamentally enhance the Department. We look forward to working in the weeks ahead to select the independent monitor who will oversee this agreement.”

The draft consent decree is the result of the lawsuit Madigan filed in August 2017 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois against the City of Chicago seeking numerous reforms outlined by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in its investigation of CPD. Madigan filed her lawsuit to obtain a consent decree for CPD after DOJ did not pursue a consent decree in Chicago, despite its own recommendation to do so.

The draft consent decree is based on DOJ’s findings that revealed a pattern of civil rights violations, including the unconstitutional use of deadly and excessive force by officers, caused by systemic deficiencies within CPD, that include inadequate training on appropriate tactics, lack of supervision; a failure to adequately investigate officer misconduct and discipline officers; and inadequate wellness and counseling programs to support officers. The draft also took into account recommendations from the Police Accountability Task Force report.

The goals of the consent decree will be to:

  • Ensure strong community partnerships and positive community interactions to increase public confidence in CPD and enhance public safety.
  • Ensure CPD polices without bias and that members of the public are treated with courtesy and dignity.
  • Provide CPD officers with clear policy, training and supervisory direction that promotes equal protection under the law for all individuals.
  • Promote the use of crisis intervention techniques in order to reduce the need to use force, facilitate access to the healthcare system and decrease unnecessary criminal justice involvement.
  • Require use of de-escalation tactics, including use of trauma-informed communication techniques, to reduce the circumstances in which using force is necessary.
  • Ensure accountability when CPD officers use force that is not objectively reasonable, necessary, and proportional under the totality of the circumstances.
  • Ensure CPD promotes individuals who are capable of providing effective supervision, guiding officers under their command on lawful, safe and effective policing, and holding officers accountable for misconduct.
  • Ensure that CPD lowers the number of officers per supervisor, and ensures that officers have one consistent supervisor.
  • Ensure CPD attracts, hires and promotes qualified candidates at all ranks that reflect a broad cross section of the Chicago community.
  • Enhance recruit, field, in-service and pre-service promotional training so they are adequate in duration and scope, in accordance with the law, CPD policy, best practices and the consent decree.
  • Provide CPD officers with adequate support systems to treat mental health, substance abuse, emotional challenges and other job-related stressors in order to achieve a healthy and effective police force.
  • Enhance a robust and well-functioning accountability system that promotes a culture of accountability and holds CPD members to the highest standards of integrity.
  • Ensure that all complaints of misconduct are thoroughly and efficiently investigated.
  • Empower CPD to engage in critical self-examination, including by collecting data relating to officers’ interactions with the public, auditing data for accuracy, analyzing trends and developing support and intervention systems.

The full consent decree can be viewed at Madigan’s police reform website. Chicago residents have an opportunity to comment on the consent decree until Aug. 17 through the website, by emailing policereform@atg.state.il.us, or calling 1 (833) 243-1498 and leaving a message with your comments. Comments can also be mailed or faxed to the following address:

Illinois Attorney General
Attn: Civil Rights Bureau
100 W. Randolph St., 12th Floor
Chicago, IL 60601
Fax: 312-814-3212

Also today, Madigan and the City issued a request for proposals to begin the process of selecting an independent monitor. The request for proposals can be viewed on the police reform website. Also available on the website are reports on the feedback obtained from Chicago residents and police officers and fact sheet about the draft consent decree.

Madigan’s office was also assisted by Robins Kaplan, a national law firm retained on a pro bono basis that has a long history of community work on behalf of a wide range of clients.

Vanita Gupta, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and former head of the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), issued the following statement:

“In the face of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Session’s abdication of his congressionally mandated responsibility, we applaud Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and her office for working with the community and the Chicago police department in negotiating a long-term, comprehensive consent decree to address serious systemic problems and rebuild community trust. The agreement will ensure proper police training, accountability, and community engagement. These measures are necessary to ensure that police services are delivered in a manner consistent with the Constitution, promote public safety, and ensure officer safety and wellness.”

Gupta notes that although the agreement is specifically tailored to the conditions existing in Chicago, the provisions are consistent with the types of agreements negotiated by the Civil Rights Division during the Obama administration.

“We hope that other state and local governments will follow Illinois’ lead and take the important step to advance policing reform,” she said.

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition of more than 200 national organizations that promote and protect the rights of all persons in the U.S.  For more information on The Leadership Conference visit www.civilrights.org.