Chicago Police Department Consent Decree Set to Expand to Include Traffic Stops After Fatal Shooting of Dexter Reed

Video: The WTTW News Spotlight Politics team discusses the consent decree update and more of the day’s top news. (Produced by Andrea Guthmann)

A federal court order requiring the Chicago Police Department to change the way it trains, supervises and disciplines officers is set to expand to include traffic stops, officials told WTTW News.

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The move comes two months after four officers fired 96 bullets in 41 seconds during a West Side traffic stop, killing 26-year-old Dexter Reed.

All five officers, who told investigators they stopped Reed’s SUV near the border of Humboldt Park and Garfield Park because they suspected he was not wearing his seat belt, remain on paid administrative leave and have not returned to active duty, a department spokesperson told WTTW News on Monday.

Investigators believe Reed fired at police first, wounding an officer, before four officers responded with deadly force, according to the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, the agency charged with investigating police misconduct.

Chicago Police Supt. Larry Snelling has agreed to allow a federal judge to oversee the department’s use of traffic stops as part of CPD’s commitment to “implementing substantive and lasting reforms rooted in constitutional policing as we work to build trust in our communities,” according to a statement from the department to WTTW News.

CPD has already launched a review of the department’s use of traffic stops and stepped-up efforts to train officers on their responsibility under the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unconstitutional searches and seizures, according to the statement.

CPD has made approximately 70,800 traffic fewer traffic stops so far in 2024, as compared with the year before, while officers have made 425 more felony arrests after traffic stops than they did during the same period last year, officials said. That data could not be independently verified by WTTW News.

Representatives of Mayor Brandon Johnson did not respond to a request for comment Monday.

U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer will hold a hearing on June 11 to hear testimony from Chicagoans about CPD’s use of traffic stops, court records show.

The hearing will take place virtually from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. June 11 via an online portal available here or by phone by calling 646-931-3860, access code 99967721132#. The hearing will continue in person from 1:30 to 4 p.m. in courtroom 2541 at the Dirksen U.S. Courthouse, 219 S. Dearborn St. Audio of the in-person session will be available by phone by calling 877-336-1839, access code 6708061.

Pallmeyer is responsible for enforcing the court order, known as the consent decree, which was prompted by a 2017 federal investigation that found officers routinely violated the constitutional rights of Black and Latino Chicagoans. After what is likely to be months of negotiations, the judge could order significant changes to the way CPD stops and searches motorists.

If Pallmeyer agrees to expand the consent decree’s scope to include traffic stops as expected, it will be the third time the 5-year-old court order has grown in response to widespread public outrage caused by the actions of Chicago police officers.

After the monitoring team found CPD officers committed far-reaching misconduct during the protests and unrest triggered by the police murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020, the consent decree added 17 requirements, ranging from new rules governing efforts to prepare for large protests and civil unrest to requirements that officers’ body-worn cameras be reviewed after incidents.

In March 2022, the consent decree again expanded to include CPD’s use of search warrants. CPD’s use of search warrants had been in the spotlight since December 2020, when CBS2-TV aired video of officers raiding the home of Anjanette Young, a social worker who was handcuffed while naked during a botched raid in February 2019.

Pallmeyer declined to ban CPD from conducting no-knock warrants, to block officers from executing warrants to search for evidence of minor offenses, and to prohibit officers from pointing guns at people during raids and to require officers to wait for a minimum amount of time before making forced entry into a home or apartment.

In addition, the monitoring team and Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, who is responsible for helping to enforce the consent decree, pushed CPD to craft a more restrictive policy governing when officers could chase people after Chicago police officers shot and killed 13-year-old Adam Toledo and 22-year-old Anthony Alvarez after foot pursuits.

Raoul praised CPD for agreeing to additional oversight for traffic stops.

"This step forward would not be happening without the tireless advocacy of community organizations and residents who have been directly impacted by CPD traffic stops,” Raoul said. “We are hopeful that the consent decree can be a useful tool in a broad-based effort to ensure that traffic stops no longer turn into tragedies.”

The consent decree already required CPD to craft a policy governing foot chases, but officials did not fulfill that requirement until 2022, three years after the consent decree took effect.

CPD has fully met just 6% of the court order’s requirements, according to the most recent report by monitoring team, which was released in November.

The monitoring team’s next report, expected by the end of June, “will include our assessment of whether the outcomes intended by the consent decree are being achieved and whether changes are necessary to expedite and sustain reform,” according to a statement from Hickey, who is prohibited by the court order from discussing her work in public.

Focus on Traffic Stops Continues

News of the likely expansion of the consent decree comes as Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx considers adopting a policy that would prohibit her office from bringing charges when guns or drugs are recovered from traffic stops that were prompted by improper registration or equipment violations.

More than 51% of all drivers stopped by police officers in 2023 were Black, and nearly 31% of drivers pulled over by Chicago police officers were Latino. By comparison, just 13.6% of drivers stopped by Chicago police were White, according to a report from Impact for Equity, a nonprofit advocacy and research organization that has helped lead the push to reform the Chicago Police Department.

Reed, a Black man, was stopped in the city’s Harrison (11th) Police District, where more than 10% of all traffic stops in Chicago took place in 2023, according to that report. The vast majority of residents who live in that police district are Black.

Approximately 73% of the traffic stops made by Chicago police officers in 2023 were prompted by improper registration or an equipment violation, according to the report.

Just 2.2% of those stops led to an arrest, and a gun was recovered in just 0.5% of stops, according to the report. Approximately 4.4% of stops led to a citation, according to the report.

A separate report from Chicago’s inspector general released in March 2022 found that when a police stop results in an officer using force, 83.4% of those incidents involve a Black person.

Impact for Equity has called for Chicago officers to be banned from pulling over drivers because of improper registration issues or broken equipment, like the one that appears to have led to Reed’s death.

The number of traffic stops conducted by Chicago police officers began to surge in 2015, when officers made less than 100,000 stops. After department officials agreed to curtail the use of stop-and-frisk as part of an agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois after the civil rights organization found officers stopped Black Chicagoans at a far higher rate than Latino or White Chicagoans.

The team overseeing court-ordered reforms of the Chicago Police Department found in a report released in June that there was evidence to suggest a direct correlation between a significant increase in the rate of reported traffic stops by police officers as the number of pedestrian stops dropped.

The ACLU of Illinois sued the city in June, alleged the use of traffic stops by the CPD was the latest chapter of the city’s “long and sordid history” of racist discrimination. That suit, which seeks to be certified as a class action covering millions of Chicago, is pending, court records show.

Contact Heather Cherone: @HeatherCherone | (773) 569-1863 | [email protected]

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