CHICAGO (CBS) — In light of the recent protests over police brutality and racial inequality, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and other mayors from across the country are asking Congress to work with them on policing reforms.
“I think they’ve got to listen and invite us into the conversation. Mayors are on the front lines. We’ve been on the front lines through COVID-19. That work continues. We’re on the front lines when it comes to police reform and accountability,” she told CNN in a Skype interview.
Lightfoot said she wants Congress to invite mayors from around the country to be part of the conversation on federal legislation that would require changes to policing.
The mayor said she and many of her counterparts in other cities are in the process of drafting specific guidelines for police reform. She said she hopes Congress will consider those guidelines as part of any federal police reform legislation.
“Whatever the Congress imposes, we’ll be the ones responsible for executing it. So we believe members of Congress, before they push the reform movement down the track, need to listen to mayors, and we need to have a seat at that table,” she said.
While mayors across the country have been talking to their congressional representatives about police reform, Lightfoot said it would be helpful for the House and Senate to formally invite them to provide input as they are drafting federal legislation.
“All across the country, a lot of things have been implemented over the last four or five years around police reform and accountability; things like banning chokeholds, allowing anonymous complaints, body cameras, dashcams. We’ve done a lot across the U.S.,” she said. “Do we need to do more? Absolutely. Has the status quo failed? No question. But hearing from mayors and police chiefs on the front lines, I think, will only enrich and inform the discussion and debate happening at the national level.”
Lightfoot also said Congress needs to take into account the devastating effect the COVID-19 pandemic has had on local and state budgets.
“I think that they’re missing the nuance, which is where the detail lies, about things like having licensing, about things like reporting uses of force. All of those things sound good, but we have got to figure out how we do them in a way that doesn’t add to the burden of cities and states in an unfunded mandate; that, in this time of austere budgets, that we can’t handle,” she said.
However, Chicago has been slow to implement court-ordered reforms during the first year of a consent decree that stemmed from a scathing Justice Department report that found systemic abuses by CPD against minorities, including officers routinely using excessive force against African Americans and Hispanics.
According to the latest report from the court monitor overseeing the CPD consent decree, the Chicago Police Department missed 71% of its deadlines from March 2019 through February 2020.