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LISA MADIGAN: People can’t ‘live in fear from criminals or the police’

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, joined by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson, announces the filing of a federal lawsuit seeking federal court oversight of CPD. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

The U.S. Department of Justice’s investigation into the Chicago Police Department confirmed what many Chicagoans already knew – the police department has a history of serious problems that have endangered the lives of both residents and police officers.

Chicago’s history is fraught with tragedies followed by failed attempts at reform.

OPINION

If Chicago is going to remain a city that people choose to live in and raise their families, the city has to support police officers and communities; the police have to support communities; and communities have to support the police.

Without those relationships working well, we won’t have safe communities in Chicago.

The need for police reform that Chicago faces today is only its latest, and I believe it is the last chance we have to achieve real and lasting reform.

I know police officers are committed to reducing violence, but they need more training, better resources and support to do their jobs safely and properly.

Residents of the city, especially in communities of color, cannot continue to live in fear from criminals or the police.

Meanwhile, over the past decade, more than half a billion taxpayer dollars have been used to pay for the damage. It would cost a fraction of that to properly train and support officers and provide communities with the resources they need.

Achieving community safety is complex, yet addressing violence in Chicago and implementing reforms to ensure lawful policing are complementary – not contradictory – goals.

These problems demand action. Reform is the necessary foundation to real and sustainable crime reduction Unfortunately, the Justice Department has abdicated its role to enforce lawful policing. As the Illinois attorney general, also charged with enforcing civil rights laws, I filed a lawsuit to obtain a federal consent decree with the city to implement reform.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson are committed to sustainable reform through a court-enforceable consent decree overseen by a federal judge that addresses the problems identified in the Justice Department report.

We owe the people of Chicago — civilians and officers alike — a police department that respects their rights, protects their safety, and supports the brave officers who risk their lives to take on these responsibilities.

Working together, I know that we can make this a stronger city for everyone.

Lisa Madigan is the attorney general of Illinois, first elected in 2002.

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