Chicago Police Department Reform Plan Draft Unveiled

Reforms in the Chicago Police Department will be overseen by a federal judge, according to a proposed court agreement that was recently unveiled. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Mayor Rahm Emanuel stood side by side to announce the release of the draft proposal. Now, the proposal enters a three-week period of public scrutiny before it’s filed in federal court.

The 232-page draft is the first iteration of a planned consent decree to govern many aspects of the Chicago Police Force. Emanuel initially agreed to a consent decree with the Obama Justice Department, but it took Madigan suing Emanuel’s City Hall for the mayor to enter negotiations to seek court oversight. Negotiations between the two sides continued for nearly a year before the draft proposal was unveiled.

The court-enforced mandate was sought after the controversial Laquan McDonald police shooting, in which Officer Jason Van Dyke shot the 17-year-old African-American 16 times. The release of the video of the shooting several months later touched off furious street protests and an investigation into use of force in the city. A report released in January 2017 found that the police department was “comprehensively broken” and that it shielded badly trained cops with a largely ineffectual disciplinary system. Van Dyke’s trial over the shooting is scheduled to start later this year.

The proposal attempts to address many of the long-standing issues that have plagued the Chicago Police Force. Emanuel stressed that some of the initiatives, such as better training, were put into place at the request of the police officers. The implementation of reforms would be overseen by an independent monitor reporting to the judge. The monitor may recruit a team of deputies, including academics, lawyers and former police chiefs, to assist in monitoring the force.

There is sure to be tension in the city as the final details of the consent decree is hammered out. Chicago Fraternal Order of Police President Kevin Graham has already called the proposed consent decree “illegal and invalid.” FOP leaders are seeking to intervene in the case, but the judge has not ruled on whether the union will be allowed to get involved. These actions are falling in the last months of Emanuel’s campaign for re-election. Madigan is not running for re-election

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