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Why the consent decree won’t bring true reform to the Police Department

Lisa Madigan speaks at a press conference on the draft of a Police Department consent decree in Chicago on July 27. | Colin Boyle/Sun-Times

Although a draft of the consent decree involving the City of Chicago, its police department, and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan was recently made public, any hope it will lead to meaningful reform and change within the Chicago Police Department is truly unrealistic.

As a recently departed, 17-year investigator with the now-defunct Independent Police Review Authority and its predecessor, the Office of Professional Standards, I can speak with certainty about what — and more importantly, what not — to expect from the consent decree. In short, it is no more than smoke and mirrors, and it gives false hope to those who believe it will bring about the needed change its authors contend it will.

The largest obstacles are: CPD, which steadfastly denies any of its members ever engage in misconduct, even when overwhelming proof of such exists; the politicians who regularly promise to “get tough” on crime, not realizing that only encourages police to engage in misconduct; and the police unions, which have a long record of fighting any slight reform and helping those who have engaged in misconduct escape the consequences, for years afterward.

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It is worth noting that some of those who participated in the consent decree’s creation, or commented on it, have a dismal record when it comes to police accountability. Despite the recommendation of suitable candidates to replace former Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, Mayor Rahm Emanuel ignored the list and appointed Eddie Johnson. This is particularly noteworthy since, during one of his first public interviews, Johnson denied that he ever witnessed any of his colleagues engage in misconduct, despite 28 years on the force. Such a denial is utterly absurd, and only believable if he spent his career working in a closet by himself.

Also, it is important to remember that Lori Lightfoot served as the chief administrator of OPS for less than two years, but had the opportunity to begin making meaningful changes to the agency and improve its interaction with CPD. Instead, her only measurable success was driving away talented investigators and supervisors, and then continuing to deplete the OPS staff by recruiting individuals who were loyal to her during her troubled tenure after she left for another city agency. None of her critiques of the consent decree can be taken seriously when, as chief administrator of OPS and president of the Police Board, she did little to combat police misconduct.

I chose not to be a part of the agency that replaced IPRA for a variety of reasons. I can say, however, that until CPS ceases its automatic denial of misconduct, until politicians realize that their anti-crime rhetoric only fuels misconduct and the police unions realize that their members have to face consequences for their unjustified actions, true police reform and officer accountability will not happen.

Richard Delaney, The Hague, Netherlands

Giving farmers a say

As a farm kid myself, I am glad to see Neil Steinberg give farmers a say. Those he interviews voice confidence in the businessman-president and trust that they will weather their losses. I note that they all farm 1,000 acres or more. Large farmers may sustain greater losses, but will have more cushion to survive. Smaller farmers or new, heavily indebted farm owners may not be so fortunate. Some will have to sell or go bankrupt. Their voices would have been worth hearing, too.

David McCurdy, Elmhurst

Save for retirement

Our firm has been advisers to 401k plans and retirement plans for 30-plus years. We’ve pounded the podium about saving properly for retirement. The “elephant in the room” is that too many Americans do not want live below their means, as Dave Ramsey promotes, and most don’t want to hear about debt management and avoiding “consumerism.”

While I appreciate the hype from people like state Sen. Dan Biss, the fact is, any person in Illinois whose employer does not have a plan can already call Vanguard or a similar mutual fund company, bank, etc. and set up a “salary deferral” IRA, funded with inexpensive funds. The State of Illinois’ program will probably bring awareness of this subject to many who currently “don’t think about retirement savings,” and that’s obviously a good thing.

The bottom line is that Americans need to get realistic about financial knowledge; learn about budgeting, debt management, and retirement savings (done personally or through a sponsored plan); and realize that no government- or corporate America-sponsored program is going to “take care of us” in retirement. Many Americans are more concerned about

who got kicked off “Dancing with the Stars” last night or what Kim Kardashian wore to dinner.

Stace Hilbrant, Wilmette

Problems at SIU

It has become clear to this student that the fractured image of the University of Southern Illinois-Carbondale is a product of faculty members who hold a vested interest in sullying any university restructuring, and the Daily Egyptian student newspaper is being used to carry this out.

In a flimsy attempt to maintain the status quo, certain faculty members have ushered in an editorial stance to take down the chancellor and anyone loosely associated with the term “reorg,” all while patting student reporters on the backs.

These are the same faculty members who look at each other with dumbfounded incredulity when enrollment slows to a drip. Whether or not this oblivion is self-imposed, they merely scoff at the possibility that the position taken by the Daily Egyptian is exacerbating the rate of enrollment decline. You don’t need a Ph.D. to figure this one out: Who wants to attend a university when its school paper has been doing nothing but perpetuating petty gossip?

Unfortunately, this tarnishing affects the university on a more microscopic level as well. The same college that harbors the Daily Egyptian has innovative programs in advertising and radio and television, but they’re overshadowed by the paper’s brazen, all-consuming agenda. At what cost?

In no way has the Daily Egyptian suddenly become self-sustainable financially. Forget about the entirety of SIU for a moment. Imagine a vacant, abandoned newsroom, and consider that those who lament its closure the loudest are the same ones who caused its downfall.

Kyle Kaser, Schaumburg