CHICAGO (CBS) — Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson, and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan this afternoon will release a draft of a consent decree governing sweeping changes at the Chicago Police Department.
The draft agreement includes changes to police use of force, training, supervision, discipline, oversight, and more. Emanuel, Johnson, and Madigan will release the document Friday at 2 p.m.
The last sticking point in negotiations between City Hall and Madigan has been whether officers must file a report whenever they point their guns at someone. While officers now must file a report any time they use force, they do not need to do so when they pull out their weapon and point it at someone.
The consent decree not only will put the city’s police reforms in writing, it will mean the reforms can be enforced in federal court.
The reforms come in response to a scathing Justice Department report last year that found systemic abuses of minorities by Chicago police, and “severely deficient” training of officers.
The 161-page report blamed insufficient and outdated training, disciplinary, and supervision policies at the department. As many CPD critics have said for years, the Justice Department found the Chicago Police Department’s use of force unfairly targeted African American and Hispanic communities.
Then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the Justice Department’s investigation of the Chicago Police Department found officers routinely used excessive force in violation of the U.S. Constitution.
The Justice Department and the Emanuel administration signed an agreement to negotiate a consent decree, but when the Trump administration backed down from that agreement, and the mayor moved forward with efforts to negotiate an out-of-court agreement on reforms, Madigan sued the city to force court oversight.
In New Orleans, a consent decree implemented five years ago had a dramatic effect on brutality complaints in The Big Easy.
An oversight report last year said, “The monitoring team did not locate any litigation for the past two years, alleging excessive use of force.”
A study of 23 departments under consent decrees, including New Orleans, found lawsuits dropped dramatically – from 23 to 36% each year, in each city.
Sheila Bedi, a professor at Northwestern Law School, is part of the consent decree negotiations. She says she expects a similar result in Chicago.
“The city of Chicago should expect to pay out far less in police misconduct litigation because police officers will be forced to be in compliance with the constitution,” Bedi stated.
From 2004 to 2016, Chicago taxpayers shelled out $662 million in police settlements and the payments keep coming.
Last year, a record settlement of $44.7 million by a federal jury, which found Officer Patrick Kelly shot Michael La Porta, but told investigators it was suicide.
“It will provide accountability, it will provide oversight, it is a critically important tool,” Bedi said, referring to the consent decree.
A New Orleans report also noted continued problems with illegal stops and searches.
“Since compliance requires a significant culture change from the department’s historic practices, this item necessarily takes longer to accomplish,” the report stated.
“It’s going to take a long time to fix what’s wrong with the Chicago Police Department,” said Bedi.
Once the draft consent decree is submitted in federal court, there will be a public hearing on the proposed reforms before U.S. District Judge Robert Dow decides whether to approve them.