Mayor’s consent decree promises to reform CPD


Jocelyn Moreno

The attorney general’s office gathered ideas about reform of the Chicago Police Department from CPD officers and 13 focus groups. This guidance was considered when drafting the consent decree. 

By Jermaine Nolen

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan have come to a new understanding about  the Chicago Police Department, in a recent proposed consent decree.

A draft of the decree was released July 27, according to Illinois Attorney General’s Office, pending final approval by the U.S. District Court. The decree is the latest in a series of efforts to reform the police department and will be enforceable by a federal judge. 

According to the Attorney General’s Office, the department sat down with 13 focus groups to obtain input on reform for CPD. Some of the  groups expressed a need for more accountability from officers, increased transparency and updates to police policy on the use of force. 

“The commitment from the mayor’s administration shows good intentions, but it means nothing until the action is actually implemented,” said Romann’ Frost, Hyde Park native. “It’s all just a lot of talk, but what  Chicago really wants—especially people living  on the South Side and the West Side—is action and representation.”

The new decree requires that officers document each time a firearm is pointed at someone and will be enforceable by July 1, 2019, according to Sept. 13 press release from Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office. 

Officers must report their actions to their immediate supervisors, who, once notified, will review the incident. Beginning January 2020, an independent monitor will review the cases. 

“It would be a good thing for the community. It’s a big step, especially when you think about [situations] like the Laquan McDonald [case] happening in the news,” said Simone Malcolm,  a second year journalism graduate student. 

“Now they are held responsible.They can’t just point their gun at a person, shoot them and then make up some type of story after about what actually happened,” she said.

Requiring officers to communicate with dispatch whenever they draw their weapon is a very good step toward transparency, Malcom said. 

Transparency and accountability are two key things that have been made a priority by the Attorney General’s Office, according to the draft consent decree. In 2017, Madigan filed a lawsuit against the City of Chicago, based on a year-long civil rights investigation conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice into practices of the CPD. 

“Although Rahm Emanuel is not running for a second term, this is a good thing for him to have done, and hopefully it will be an important part of the legacy he is remembered for,” said Rob Watkins, associate professor  of Political Science and Cultural Studies at Columbia. 

“It’s to the credit of Lisa Madigan and Rahm Emanuel to have taken up the responsibility even in the absence of federal action,” Watkins said. “The headline was the change of policy that officers are required to radio in when they draw their weapon. But it is important to set that headline in the larger context of that consent decree. [The decree] is an important step.”