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Groups Call for More Reforms in Chicago Police Decree

One potential change to Chicago Police protocol is to avoid making arrests for minor offenses. (Pixabay)
One potential change to Chicago Police protocol is to avoid making arrests for minor offenses. (Pixabay)
August 17, 2018

CHICAGO – The public comment period for a consent decree to govern how Chicago Police officers use force and are held accountable ends today.

Backers of police reform – including the ACLU and Black Lives Matter – are in a tug-of-war with the Illinois attorney general's office and Mayor Rahm Immanuel over details of the draft consent decree, which resulted from a 2014 video of white police officer Jason Van Dyke shooting black teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times.

The decree is a set of promises the City of Chicago is making to improve its police department. Kathy Hunt Muse, a special litigation counsel for ACLU of Illinois, says her group has additions in a dozen areas it believes are necessary to make deeper reforms.

"Parts of our proposal outlines additional revisions need to go further on issues relating to accountability,” says Hunt Muse. “Some of these are commonsense fixes about making agencies share information with each other about potential officer misconduct, so that they can act on that and investigate incidents."

When the consent decree is finalized, the groups can go to court to enforce it. The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police has long been opposed to the changes, in light of provisions in union contracts that protect officers during disciplinary investigations.

Hunt Muse says the final decree also needs a guarantee that it will be enforceable and transparent. She's pushing for the attorney general and the public to have more say, and says an appointed monitor could independently decide on cases of possible discrimination.

"We cannot have a monitor that's going to operate as a rubber stamp, approving the proposal that the department comes up with privately,” says Hunt Muse. “We need to make sure that there's an opportunity for the public to be seeing what happens, and commenting on certain parts of the plans and the trainings that go on."

The ACLU wants more officers to be trained for dealing with people with disabilities. The city's draft decree also calls for the department to provide additional resources for officers seeking counseling, since suicide among law enforcement is a concern in Chicago and elsewhere.

Public comments can be emailed to policereform@atg.state.il.us

Trimmel Gomes, Public News Service - IL