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Federal judge planning two days of public comment over CPD consent decree

Lisa Madigan and Rahm Emanuel shake hands at a press conference on the draft of the consent decree in Chicago, IL on July 27, 2018. | Colin Boyle/Sun-Times

A federal judge said Thursday he will hear for two days from members of the public who want to comment on a consent decree expected to govern reforms at the Chicago Police Department.

U.S. District Judge Robert Dow said he expects to hold a fairness hearing Oct. 24 and 25, likely in the ceremonial courtroom of the Dirksen Federal Courthouse, before implementing what could be the most significant document in CPD’s history.

“That’s a longer fairness hearing than I’ve ever had,” Dow said.

The judge said he will make accommodations for people who want to register to speak at a specific time, as well as for walk-ins. However, he said there will be time limits.

Plans for the hearing are still somewhat tentative. Dow said he will formally set the hearing after lawyers for the state and City Hall have filed a draft of the consent decree with the court. That hasn’t happened yet.

However, the judge laid out his plans during a hearing in open court Thursday, and he said he would immediately make reservations for the ceremonial courtroom on the 25th floor of the Dirksen courthouse at 219 S. Dearborn.

One sticking point in the consent decree negotiations remains: whether police should be required to make a record each time they point a gun at a person. State lawyers moved to resume litigation on that question Wednesday. That means Dow will likely decide, though the matter could still be settled in negotiations.

City Hall and Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office last month revealed a 225-page draft of the consent decree, which is wide-ranging and would address virtually every aspect of policing in Chicago. Fraternal Order of Police President Kevin Graham blasted it as “illegal and invalid.”

Gary Caplan, a lawyer with Madigan’s office, said roughly 1,700 public comments have since poured in.