Major changes could soon come to the Chicago Police Department as the city reaches an agreement on a plan to carry out far-reaching police reforms more than a year after a scathing Justice Department report.
Read the full draft consent decree here.
The proposed consent decree, which calls for "wide-reaching reform of CPD's policies, practices, training, and accountability mechanisms" was released Friday afternoon, though it would still require a judge's approval. If approved, it will be a court order enforced by a federal judge.
Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced the agreement alongside Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson. She said while there have been "many attempts at police reform over many decades in Chicago," none have brought “systemic and sustainable change."
“I believe it will be different this time," she said.
“Unlike those of the past, attempts to just talk the talk and not walk the walk will be unsuccessful," she later added.
The decree would require evaluation by an independent monitor "who will publicly report on consent decree progress and assist the federal judge overseeing the case with enforcement."
Read the full draft consent decree below.
Among the reforms called for are the tracking and analyzing of all foot pursuits, further restrictions for officers to shoot at moving vehicles, improvements to transparency at "all stages of misconduct investigations" and addressing the "code of silence and officer collusion." It also would require annual training on deescalation, appropriate force and implicit bias and the implementation of "trauma-informed crisis intervention techniques to allow officers to appproriately respond to people in crisis and reduce need for force."
"This was done with the police officers, not to them and not against them," Johnson said during the announcement.
Madigan, with Emanuel's support, sued the city last year seeking court oversight of the beleaguered police department. The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago requested extensive judicial oversight, including an independent court-appointed monitor who would regularly report to a judge about whether the city was meeting reform benchmarks.
The lawsuit killed a draft plan negotiated with President Donald Trump's administration that didn't envision a court role in reforming the department — a departure from the practice during President Barack Obama administration of using courts to change troubled departments.
Friday's announcement is far from the final step in the process.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert Dow set a Sept. 1 deadline for the city and attorney general to file their proposed agreement. The judge has said he will hold hearings in which stakeholders will be able to weigh in on the plan before he approves a final consent decree.
"It will give us the resources to make sure that the Chicago Police Department is more professional," Johnson said.
Chicago's police union has sharply criticized the legal action, saying a consent decree would make it harder for officers to do their jobs. They argued the decree is "illegal and invalid" and vowed to challenge it in court.
Madigan said the reforms don't aim to hinder officers from protecting themselves.
"In no way does any one of the provisions of this consent decree put police officers at risk," she said.
The American Civil Liberties Union noted the decree does not require officers to document when they point a weapon at someone, a point that had sparked much debate earlier this week.
"The City of Chicago just settled a case for $2.5 million where police held a gun to the chest of a 3-year-old child," the union said in a statement. "Given the absence of this provision, we need to examine this draft very closely."
A damning Justice Department report released during the waning days of the Obama administration in January 2017 found that civil rights abuses permeate Chicago's 12,000-member force, including racial bias, a tendency to use excessive force and a "pervasive cover-up culture."
The investigation was prompted by a video released in late 2015 that showed a white police officer shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times as the teenager appeared to walk away from police carrying a small, folded knife. The video's release prompted weeks of protests and calls for reforms.
Jason Van Dyke, the officer who shot McDonald, is scheduled to go on trial on murder charges Sept. 5.
In a joint statement with Justice Department officials at the time the report was released, Emanuel committed to making changes through a consent decree process. He later said doing so was impossible because the Trump administration was backing away from such agreements. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said consent decrees can unfairly malign good officers.
Activists blasted Emanuel for cutting a now-defunct deal with the Trump Justice Department, arguing the department couldn't be transformed without court scrutiny.