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Police acknowledge missing consent decree deadlines, but insist they are making progress

Officials say an upcoming report from an independent monitor will lay out a series of missed deadlines toward reforming the department, but they said they are committed to the process.

Sun-Times file photo

Chicago police officials in charge of implementing an array of court-ordered reforms in the department admit their first progress report, due to be released this month, will likely leave something to be desired.

Their response: We’re committed to the process and we’re working on it.

Look deeper at the report, they say, and the public will see that the department has made progress in its first six months under a federal consent decree.

Despite the fact the report will show the department has missed deadlines for putting in place new policies and conducting training by the end of August, CPD has made significant strides, according to Christina Anderson, the civilian head of the Office of Reform Management, which is tasked with coordinating with the federal monitor’s team on behalf of CPD.

“There are a lot of places that we’re nine-tenths of the way there,” Anderson said Tuesday during an interview at police headquarters.

The department has been under the consent decree since March — a result of a lawsuit filed against the city by the state’s then-Attorney General Lisa Madigan on the heels of a scathing review of the department’s policies and practices by the U.S. Justice Department in 2017.

Federal monitor Maggie Hickey, a former assistant United States Attorney appointed to oversee the department through the consent decree, is expected to release her team’s first assessment of the department’s progress this month, police officials said. The report will track the department’s progress through the end of August.

The report will examine the department’s progress in the development of a new use of force policy, its work to engage the community in the reform process and in training for officers as part of reforms the consent decree orders, among others.

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

In some areas, Anderson said the department has managed to meet the goals after the deadline, but the progress won’t be reflected until the second report from the monitor next year.

“It’s not like we’ve sat on our hands and not done anything. We’ve made some substantial steps,” said Bureau of Organizational Development Chief Barbara West, a possible candidate to succeed retiring Supt. Eddie Johnson. “We’re committed to the reforms.”

Officials said they’ve largely received positive feedback from rank-and-file officers so far in the process, despite the union that represents the officers having repeatedly attacked the consent decree.

“The message from our part is very positive,” Cmdr. Daniel Godsel said of his roll-call meetings with officers to keep them up to speed. “We stress that it’s not just a matter of getting out from under the consent decree, it’s about making those longterm, sustainable, durable reforms ... that the department needs.”

Godsel said officers routinely approach him after the meetings to thank him for clarifying the process. When officers voice concern about being able to do their jobs under the consent decree, he said he asks them if they’ve actually read it.

“The answer is always, ‘No, I have not,’” he said. “The goal is culture shift, and then managing those who are not going to come along with us.”

Marty Preib, a spokesman for the Fraternal Order of Police, declined to comment.