Ahead of independent monitor’s third report, CPD says consent decree compliance efforts signal ‘improvement’
It remains unclear, though, how the Chicago Police Department’s compliance will be graded, as the independent monitoring team is compiling its latest report. In the second report, released last summer, the CPD was found to have missed 70% of its consent decree-related deadlines.
After poor showings in the first two reporting periods, Chicago Police Department leaders are optimistic the city’s cops are moving closer to compliance with the CPD’s court-enforced consent decree.
In a new report detailing the department’s consent decree-related efforts, the CPD says it turned over more documents to the independent monitor — tasked with overseeing the department’s progress — during the third reporting period than in the two prior periods combined.
From March 1 to Dec. 31, 2020, the CPD gave the monitoring team, led by Maggie Hickey, more than 8,100 documents, up from the 1,865 that were turned over by the department during the second reporting period. The third reporting period was extended from six months to 10 after the onset of COVID-19 pandemic upended daily life.
It remains unclear, though, how the CPD’s compliance will be graded, as Hickey and her team are still compiling their third report. In the independent monitor’s second report, released last summer, the CPD was found to have missed 70% of its consent decree-related deadlines.
CPD Supt. David Brown wouldn’t guess how Hickey and her team will rate the department’s latest reform efforts — “It’s not a self-graded test” — though he did say the department’s submissions are part of “an exercise in quantity and quality.”
“Overall, it’s about changing the culture,” Brown said. “So even if you get an ‘A’ grade, but your culture is not changing because you just check the boxes, I think you’ve missed the whole point of reform.”
CPD officials said the large uptick in production was driven by both the third reporting period’s deadlines, as well as a need to catch up on deadlines previously missed.
“The consent decree builds on itself, and so does our compliance,” said Robert Boik, executive director of the CPD’s Office of Constitutional Policing and Reform and Brown’s former chief of staff.
“It’s not as if we can ignore the deadlines that were missed in the past and then just start doing the work in the middle of it. It’s iterative work,” Boik added. “So you have to build the foundation, really, before you can start to see that cultural change that we’re seeking. Our emphasis was really on both. It was on catching up from prior periods, as well as meeting the new demands that were identified in the monitor’s plan for [the third reporting period].”
The consent decree, approved by U.S. District Judge Robert Dow in January 2019, was prompted by a U.S. Department of Justice investigation and a lawsuit then-Illinois General Lisa Madigan filed against the CPD in the wake of the killing of teenager Laquan McDonald.
Though the first two reporting periods left much to be desired, Boik said the CPD’s efforts in the third period — even against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, widespread civil unrest and a surge in gun violence — give him reason for optimism ahead of the release of the independent monitor’s next report.
“What I expect to see is improvement,” Boik said. “The quantity shows we’re not sitting on our hands just waiting around for the monitor to tell us we’re out of compliance. We are really putting forth a significant effort, and I do expect that effort to be reflected in the monitor’s report.”
But while far more records were turned over in the third reporting period, the CPD said 4,500 of 8,100 documents that were submitted were in regard to the independent monitor’s inquiry into CPD officers’ actions during the height of the civil unrest in late May and early June last year.
Still, according to the CPD, the 3,600 “compliance-related submissions constitute a 93% increase” from the prior reporting period.
CPD officials say Hickey’s third report will likely be released in the next few weeks; a representative for Hickey and her team did not respond to messages Friday.