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AG Lisa Madigan not consulted before Emanuel finalized police reforms

SHARE AG Lisa Madigan not consulted before Emanuel finalized police reforms
SHARE AG Lisa Madigan not consulted before Emanuel finalized police reforms

Retiring Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan was not consulted before Mayor Rahm Emanuel decided to earmark $27.4 million of his 2018 budget for police reform, a top mayoral aide acknowledged Monday.

Instead, Walter Katz, the mayor’s deputy chief of staff for public safety, said Emanuel worked with “a number of experts” to develop budget recommendations “framed by the Obama Justice Department’s report” on the Chicago Police Department.

“We are looking at creating a framework for reforming use of force, accountability, a lot of focus on training, officer wellness, community policing,” Katz said Monday.

“We know we’re gonna have to train officers. We know that, over the next several years, we’re gonna increase in-service training for officers up to 40 hours-per-year by 2021. But, we now also will have the time to develop that curriculum. That will be informed a great deal by working with the attorney general.”

Two months ago, Madigan sued the city, seeking federal court oversight over the Chicago Police Department.

After months of resistance, Emanuel was finally on board and vowed to negotiate with Madigan to finalize a consent decree — with rigid timetables and financial commitments — culminating in the appointment of a federal monitor to ride herd over the Chicago Police Department.

Given that pending lawsuit and the ongoing negotiations, Katz was hard-pressed to explain why Madigan was not consulted before the budget figure was finalized.

Police Board President Lori Lightfoot has questioned how the mayor arrived at the $27.4 million figure — whether the decision was made unilaterally, for instance or how some reforms and not others were chosen.

Madigan’s office refused to comment.

“If you’re gonna be adding up to 1,000 officers, which the mayor promised a year ago, you’re gonna have to have enough field training officers. That’s where a significant part of the investment comes from,” said Katz, the former independent police auditor for San Jose, Ca.

“No one disagrees that having expanded body cameras is a good thing. So moving beyond getting all patrol districts equipped with body cameras one year ahead of schedule and now moving on to specialized teams and area teams is just good, smart reform. So none of these things we’re working on are at all outside the norm and frankly, you can go right to the DOJ report and see them right there.”

Roughly $17 million of the new money is earmarked for promoting 100 CPD members to field training officers, along with a series of new hires.

A new Office of Reform Management will have 26 employees; the civilian unit is charged with monitoring and measuring reform progress and acting as a liaison with a potential federal monitor. There’s also 30 more community policing employees, a 64 percent increase from the depleted force of 47.

Funding would also go toward phasing in 40 hours of in-service training, beginning with 16 hours next year, and toward an “early intervention system” developed with University of Chicago researchers to identify officers who need “additional support.”

Emanuel’s two-year hiring surge calls for adding 516 patrol officers, 92 field-training officers, 112 sergeants, 50 lieutenants and 200 detectives.

On Monday, Katz stressed that the 100 field training officers included in the mayor’s reform plan are in addition to the 92 field training officers in the original hiring plan.

The DOJ report focused on field training, Katz said, adding: “There has to be significant reforms made in field training so that new officers are as trained as possible in updated policing practices when they hit the streets.”

The University of Chicago Crime Lab has made some progress toward creating a $3 million “electronic early intervention system” to pinpoint problem officers. The mayor’s office is also attempting to round up private funding for it.

But Lightfoot has argued the new system is “a year away from even being piloted.”

Meanwhile, the parade of police abuse settlements continues — to the tune of $30 million last year.

On Monday, Katz gave no timetable for when the early-warning system would be up and running.

“Progress is being made,” he said. “That is why you’re seeing that investment being made specifically in 2018 to build that system.”

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