Could Trump, Sessions Derail Chicago’s Police Consent Decree?

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan have entered into an agreement to reform the city’s police department. But U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions says the agreement would increase Chicago’s homicide rate.

Sessions announced Tuesday that he would file a statement in federal court opposing the decree. But this is largely a ceremonial action, according to Emanuel and Madigan, rather than a formal order to intervene.

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The consent decree would bring a federal monitor to oversee big reforms, and require officers to document every time they point a gun, among other things. Sessions thinks all of these things will hamstring police officers and drive up crime. While the judge can consider Sessions’ statement, Emanuel claims this is all much ado about nothing, and on Wednesday chastised the media for reporting it.

“They’re not intervening,” Emanuel said. “They’re writing the equivalent of a small ‘a’ amicus brief. We have real work to do. You (reporters) have to stop acting like Pavlovian little mice every time Donald Trump says something. This ain’t even on the level.”

But some African-American aldermen are sympathetic to the claims made by Sessions, even if they publicly support the decree.

“The most calls I get in my ward, from people in my ward: ‘We need more police, we need them to be more aggressive, we need them to do more to stop people from threatening our lives every day,’” said Ald. Walter Burnett (27th Ward). “People need sighs of relief.”

The Fraternal Order of Police also opposes the decree and has unsuccessfully tried to intervene, but Police Superintendent Eddie Johnsons says he believes the agreement will ultimately benefit his department.

“We do need to change the way we’ve done business in the past and I’m committed to it, so I don’t worry about what comes from other places, I focus on what we need to do as a city and as a department, and that’s get better,” Johnson said.

The comments come as Emanuel announced the expansion of Chicago Police Department video and predictive analytic technology. He says the 12th Police District has seen a 64-percent drop in homicides since its strategic support center has gone online, and slams Sessions and Trump for their comments when overall crime is down this year.

There will be two public hearings on the consent decree in about two weeks before the judge issues his final recommendation.

Follow Paris Schutz on Twitter: @paschutz

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