Illinois Justice Project

Question Eight

Consent Decree and Policing

In August of 2017, the current Illinois Attorney General sued the City of Chicago, contending that ongoing reforms by the city at the time were not sufficient to prevent the Chicago Police Department from continuing patterns of excessive and deadly force that disproportionately impact Blacks and Latinos. Many argue that the consent decree, which covers pressing issues such as use of force, training and community policing, is an opportunity to help turn around historic shortfalls that have frayed community-police relations.

Lightfoot

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The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) has argued that the consent decree is not needed and other means of policy change should be pursued. Do you agree with the FOP that the Consent Decree is not needed? If you believe it is needed, what type of change can it provide if front-line police officers have not bought in? How should communities be incorporated in the process of enforcing the consent decree?

Much of the substance of the consent decree reflects the findings and recommendations of the Police Accountability Task Force, which I chaired. While I support the consent decree, as I have said publicly, and as I outlined in a six page letter to Judge Robert Dow, the consent decree needs substantive changes. For instance, the consent decree does not address the use of chokeholds, firing into crowds or unchecked misconduct manifested in settlements, judgments, and attorneys' fees currently totaling over $500 million in the last seven years. As mayor, I will immediately take the following steps to ensure that the consent decree is effectively implemented: ensure sufficient budget, personnel and transparent accountability measures over and above the monitoring to ensure that we are making meaningful steps toward transforming the police department.

If you generally support the consent decree, is there a specific part of the consent decree that falls short of your expectations? If you do not support the consent decree, which section or sections do you believe are particularly damaging? If so, why?

See answer above.

While not addressed in the consent decree, the next police employment contract will likely have a large impact on a number of relevant issues, including promotion and discipline. How would you approach negotiations and are there particular points of interest that you would focus on?

I support the recommendations made by the Police Accountability Task Force, which I chaired, as well as the 14 recommendations promoted by the Coalition for Police Contracts Accountability.

 Youth advocates have argued that the funding for a $95 million police training facility would be better spent on community investment, claiming it would be more effective in preventing violence. How would you respond to these activists?

I do not support Mayor Emanuel’s plan for the proposed west side police academy. It was not well conceived, not borne of a collaborative process with the community and there has been no discussion for how that investment can spur further economic growth. There is a need for a new facility, but I do not support this plan.


The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) has argued that the consent decree is not needed and other means of policy change should be pursued. Do you agree with the FOP that the Consent Decree is not needed? If you believe it is needed, what type of change can it provide if front-line police officers have not bought in? How should communities be incorporated in the process of enforcing the consent decree?

I strongly believe that the consent decree is needed and that we as a City cannot transform our police department and how our officers engage with the community without the oversight and intentionality that the consent decree will provide. It is absolutely a part of the solution when addressing the code of silence and the culture of violence that has persisted for decades with the department.

 As Mayor, I will ensure that the Chicago Police Department fully complies with the mandates of the consent decree. I will also create the Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability to oversee accountability and community engagement, working as partners with the Chicago Police Department. The Committee will play a role in ensuring that CPD implements the Consent Decree and will be instrumental in better understanding what community policing looks like as well as addressing the concerns of those most impacted when setting policies and practices.

 Finally, we must work with front- line officers to ensure that they have the resources and support they need to make the necessary changes outlined by the decree. It should be remembered that the majority of our police officers take their oath seriously and they serve and protect our communities every day, often putting their own lives on the line. For some, they themselves have been negatively impacted by the code of silence and culture of violence that they have witnessed. We must extend support to them so that they feel empowered to help us implement the decree.   Training and listening to their concerns, being fair and holding everyone accountable for reform will go a long way to creating the path for their buy-in.

If you generally support the consent decree, is there a specific part of the consent decree that falls short of your expectations? If you do not support the consent decree, which section or sections do you believe are particularly damaging? If so, why?

I support the concept contained in the consent decree that Police Officers shall direct people in crisis to the health care system.  However, the decree does not explain how this is supposed to happen or where specifically people in crisis should be referred.  The police need clear guidelines and procedures to implement this and drafting them should be a priority. In addition, I am disappointed that the consent decree does not specifically address the promotion and discipline process with the department.

While not addressed in the consent decree, the next police employment contract will likely have a large impact on a number of relevant issues, including promotion and discipline. How would you approach negotiations and are there particular points of interest that you would focus on?

As County Board President, I have a proven track record in successfully working with the unions and negotiating fair employment contracts that are in the best interests of our employees and our tax-payers. Historically, the County's negotiations for collective bargaining agreements extended years past the expiration date of prior agreements. 

 My administration worked with the Bureau of Human Resources and the unions to negotiate the most recent round of contracts in a more timely manner, addressing key operational and policy challenges. I will take this same approach with negotiating the next police employment contract, ensuring that the City reaches a deal that addresses those concerns not reflected in the decree. In particular, we must ensure promotions are based on merit and not on relationships. As mayor, I will see to it that diverse officers with strong records of proactive crime-fighting, stellar complaint records, and a history of strong community engagement are promoted, to set the right tone for the entire department. I will also ensure that officers who require intervention due to their disciplinary records are flagged as early as possible, provided the training and support they need to change their behavior and held accountable if those changes are not made.

 Youth advocates have argued that the funding for a $95 million police training facility would be better spent on community investment, claiming it would be more effective in preventing violence. How would you respond to these activists?

I opposed the funding for the $95 million police training facility in part due to many of the concerns expressed by activists. Moving forward, if the facility is built, we have a real opportunity to look at it not just from a training perspective but also from a community perspective. Many advocates have considered fully integrating community partners within the space with an intentional focus on community policing and training with the academy. As Mayor, I would work with these advocates, CPD and other partners to determine the feasibility of such a model which would in principle and practice show the true partnership and collaboration needed between police and community.

Preckwinkle

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