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Group blasts Lightfoot, CPD for rejecting use-of-force recommendations

The 20-person Use of Force Working Group was convened over the summer after George Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.

Sun-Times file

A group of police reform advocates on Monday sharply criticized Mayor Lori Lightfoot and the Chicago Police Department for its decision to reject a host of proposed changes to the department’s use-of-force policy.

The 20-person Use of Force Working Group was convened over the summer in the wake of George Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.

However, the CPD announced last week it had rejected the vast majority of the 155 recommended changes to the use-of-force policy the working group submitted.

“I personally feel like this community working group was designed to create the illusion of community engagement, just for the purpose of checking a box and public relations, as opposed to actual and true community engagement,” said La’Rie Suttle, who resigned from the working group in September. Suttle’s father was shot and killed by an off-duty CPD officer in 2012.

The CPD said it accepted five of the proposed changes and would soon publish a complete list of working group recommendations and the department’s response to each.

The department added 42 of the recommendations had already been adopted in its current policy. Of the rejected recommendations, 50 “would have directly contradicted the City’s Consent Decree or State law, and therefore, could not be legally adopted,” the CPD previously said.

Thirty other recommendations were deemed “not operationally feasible,” such as the recommendation that CPD “create an outside entity to conduct autopsies of people killed by police, essentially usurping the authority of the Cook County Medical Examiner,” the statement said. Another 28 recommendations were deemed not relevant to the use-of-force policy.

“While we understand the frustration that CPD was not able to accept many of the recommendations, the Working Group’s characterization misrepresents that CPD has simply rejected the views without engagement or reason,” Lightfoot spokesman Pat Mullane said in an emailed statement Monday.

“As the Department moves on to the next step in this work and puts pen to paper for their 2021 use of force policies, we will continue to engage directly with Chicago’s communities to ensure their lived experiences are reflected in this City’s policing policies,” he added.

However, University of Chicago law professor and working group member Craig Futterman said “one of the biggest things we learned” throughout the review process was that “the CPD never had any intention of engaging with people most impacted by police abuse to examine and modify CPD policy in the first place.”

Futterman also noted the working group was formed “as part of the consent decree,” which requires community input.

The members of this group aren’t going to stop working, he said. “[They have] devoted hundreds and hundreds of hours of their lives to this because this matters, because these are life-and-death issues, because this policy fundamentally impacts the lives of the entire city of Chicago and everybody here.”