Parties Near Agreement on Chicago Police Consent Decree

The Illinois attorney general’s office says it has nearly reached an agreement with all parties on a consent decree to provide independent oversight of the Chicago Police Department. The agreement addresses guidelines for use of force, supervision and promotions, accountability and oversight, community policing, impartial policing, crisis intervention, officer assistance and support, data management, and the role of an independent monitor appointed by a federal judge.

But the attorney general’s office says there is one issue the parties cannot reach agreement on: a provision that would have the Chicago Police Department document every incident in which an officer points a firearm at a person. Groups like the American Civil Liberties Union say other police departments, including those in Baltimore and Cleveland, have adopted this policy. And they say that merely pulling a weapon can be a form of assault, and they want to make sure there is data to track whether it’s being done properly.

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“Having a gun pointing at you is a serious moment in somebody’s life, and that should be documented,” said the ACLU’s Karen Sheley. “We had a settlement where a police officer pointed a gun at a 3-year-old girl. If officers don’t document when they pull a gun, then there will be more incidents like that in the future, and we won’t be able to tell if officers are using training like de-escalation.”

But the Chicago Police Department and the Fraternal Order of Police oppose the measure. One retired sergeant said he believes the policy would just complicate officers’ jobs further.

“We already have a report, every time a police officer has an encounter with somebody, they have to fill out a report, it’s like 70 boxes,” said retired CPD Sgt. Peter Koconis. “When you add something else to this mix, you’re taking a good active police officer and you’re putting him down for 20-30 minutes, just filling out paperwork for absolutely nothing.”

Last August, the attorney general’s office sued the city of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department after an Obama-era Department of Justice audit of the CPD found a pattern and practice of excessive and unconstitutional use of force

Since then, the three sides have been negotiating a settlement in federal court that would result in a federally appointed monitor to oversee changes that would bring the Chicago Police Department into compliance. The settlement comes as Mayor Rahm Emanuel has instituted major changes within the department, including a new use of force policy, the widespread adoption of police body cameras, and a revamped agency, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, that investigates police-involved shooting incidents. There are several grassroots community organizations that have called for a new oversight board made up entirely of civilian members that would have the power to hire and fire the police superintendent, but city leaders have stalled on the specifics of the proposal.

The Fraternal Order of Police has been highly critical of the consent decree process, and has filed a motion to intervene on the settlement talks. 

There will be another court date on Wednesday, July 25 at the Dirksen Federal Building to continue the settlement talks.

Follow Paris Schutz on Twitter: @paschutz

Note: This story was originally published on July 20, 2018.

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