Initial consent decree progress report shows CPD missed most deadlines, fell short on key benchmarks

Chicago police officials said they expected the report to paint a negative picture, but argued the department has made progress that won’t be noted until the federal monitor’s second report is released next year.

SHARE Initial consent decree progress report shows CPD missed most deadlines, fell short on key benchmarks
Eddie Johnson speaks at a press conference on the draft of the consent decree in a file photo from July 27, 2018.

Eddie Johnson speaks at a press conference on the draft of the consent decree in a file photo from July 27, 2018.

Colin Boyle for the Sun-Times

The initial progress report from a federal monitor appointed to oversee the Chicago Police Department through a historic reformation process found the city has missed more than three-quarters of its deadlines and has not reached preliminary compliance with the majority of the identified areas for reform during its first six months under a consent decree.

Earlier this week, knowing that the report would paint the department in an unflattering light, police officials tried to get ahead of its release by acknowledging the report would show less progress than the officials said the department has made.

“It’s not like we’ve sat on our hands and not done anything. We’ve made some substantial steps,” Bureau of Organizational Development Chief Barbara West, a possible candidate to succeed retiring Supt. Eddie Johnson, said in an interview Tuesday that police requested with the Chicago Sun-Times. “We’re committed to the reforms.”

The police department has been under a federally mandated consent decree since March, after a judge ordered the department to enact wide-ranging reforms in light of a withering 2017 review of its policies and practices by the U.S. Department of Justice under former President Barak Obama.

Then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the review found “reasonable cause” that the police department engaged in a pattern of using excessive force in violation of citizens’ civil rights, which Lynch said were at least partially due to “severely deficient training procedures” and “accountability systems.”

The progress report released Friday by an independent monitoring team led by Maggie Hickey, a former assistant U.S. attorney, tracked the city’s progress during its the first six months under the consent decree, from March 1 through Aug. 31.

In the report, Hickey said the department missed 37 of 50 deadlines to monitor its progress and reached preliminary compliance — the first step for the department — in only 15 of the paragraphs of the consent decree. The city had not come into preliminary compliance with an additional 52 paragraphs that were assessed during the timeframe.

However, the report also notes that “the City, the CPD, and the other relevant entities may have taken additional compliance efforts that the City has not yet demonstrated to the [monitor],” and that although the city had missed 37 deadlines, it later reached compliance in some areas before the end of the reporting period.

“In many cases, relevant City entities, including the CPD, have continued to develop policies and train personnel after” the report’s timeframe had ended, and “Those efforts were not assessed in this report, and we will assess them in the next monitoring report,” the monitoring team wrote.

The city does not get credit in the monitor’s report for reform steps it has met after the reporting period ended or for steps that were near completion, the city said earlier in the week.

“There are a lot of places that we’re nine-tenths of the way there,” Christina Anderson, the civilian head of the Office of Reform Management said Tuesday.

There’s “nothing that the monitor has said we need to do that we disagree with,” Anderson added. “It’s just a matter of figuring out how to do it and actually executing it.”

Hickey also noted in a statement Friday, “This first report begins to illustrate the scope of reform needed and details how that change cannot be expected overnight.

“We continue to identify hurdles, provide recommendations, work with the community to assess the City and CPD’s compliance, and ultimately, help the City reach full and effective compliance with the consent decree.”

The next report will cover the monitoring period from Sept. 1 through Feb. 29. For that report, the monitor will work with the city and the Illinois attorney general’s office “to address the paragraphs [of the consent decree] we assessed in the first reporting period, as well as 60 additional paragraphs for the second reporting period.”

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