CHICAGO (CBS)–More than a year into court-ordered reforms at the Chicago Police Department, the city has missed more than 70 percent of the deadlines set by the consent decree.
In 2017, the U.S. Justice Department found a pattern and practice of civil rights violations by Chicago police officers.
A federal court ordered the city to comply with a consent decree, or reform efforts to make changes in several areas including use of force, community policing, accountability, recruitment and training.
One year into monitoring whether or not these changes are being made, the department has, essentially, a failing grade, missing more deadlines than it made.
CBS 2’s Ryan Baker and Audrina Bigos spoke with Chicago Police Deputy Superintendent Barbara West, who runs the department’s Office of Constitutional Policing & Reform.
There were 35 deadlines met, but also 89 missed deadlines. Why has CPD failed at meeting these deadlines?
“So you think about how reform takes place, and reform is not going to be done overnight,” West said. “With what I’ve seen in terms of the deadlines being missed, you know, we did make some significant accomplishments in things that we’ve put in place CPD. We’ve hired more mental health physicians, we’ve begun to engage the community in our policy development. We’ve revised our use of force policies, which clearly prohibited choke holds, and less deadly force is used. So, we’re not doing a slow roll, but we’re doing a concerted effort working with our monitor, working with the OAG [Office of the Illinois Attorney General] and taking a thoughtful approach to how we redevelop our policies, which is the foundation of our reform efforts.”
The independent monitoring team’s latest report includes findings on the department’s progress with the consent decree’s requirements so far. The report said noted news events were directly related to the consent decree efforts during this reporting period, including litigation connected to alleged officer misconduct and erroneous search warrants and gang databases. The team cited a report by CBS 2 Investigators that revealed officers pointed guns at and interrogated innocent children during a wrong raid.
Across the the country there are calls to defund police, because of police brutality and excessive force, especially in Black communities. Chicagoans want to know what CPD is going to do to make these changes when lives are at stake.
“The first thing we’re doing, of course, like I mentioned before, is taking a look at our use of force policies. And when something happens around the country we always go back and make sure that we are in stuff with what’s best practice, and how we can make improvements in our policies and our training,” West said. “So those are the things that we do when we’re seeing what’s going around in the country today.”
Five years ago, the city erupted when the dashcam video of the Laquan McDonald shooting was released, and it’s been reignited in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. What can CPD do to rebuild and establish trust with the community?
“Again, again bringing in our community and engaging them in a different way that we’ve never done before, in terms of our actual policy development,” West said. “So, through the use of force working group, you know, that the community will be part of that group, and will help us bring recommendations on how to improve our policy policies, as well as our training. So, continue to engage with our community, making sure that they are part of the collaboration when we try to reform our department.”