Chicago police officers will be required to report every time they point a gun at someone, according to an agreement made public Thursday between the city and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
As part of the new procedure, police officers must radio in the use of a gun to the Office of Emergency Management, according to Madigan’s office. That will link the information electronically with the corresponding CPD reports and body-camera footage.
The decision to document each time an officer draws their gun was decried by the union representing rank-and-file officers. In fact, Fraternal Order of Police President Kevin Graham said he would “toss out the entire” court-ordered consent decree.
Police Supt. Eddie Johnson emphasized “To be clear, this notification requirement in no way prohibits officers from pointing a firearm at an offender when their safety or the safety of citizens is in jeopardy.”
Johnson also said the agreement shows the city is “moving the needle in the right direction” in terms of police reform.
“This shows people we negotiated these things honestly and faithfully,” he said.
The new procedure, part of the consent decree, is expected to go into effect in July 2019, Madigan’s office said.
The tentative deal was revealed at a hearing Thursday morning before U.S. District Judge Robert M. Dow Jr. Though the city and state are on board, the decree still needs court approval.
Under the agreement, an officer’s immediate supervisor also must be notified every time the pointing of a firearm has been reported, according to a news release from Madigan’s office. Supervisors must then review each incident to see if proper CPD procedures were followed and to deal with any misconduct.
Incidents also will be reviewed by CPD headquarters, which has 30 days to do so. Their written findings must be sent to the supervisor.
Speaking at a City Club of Chicago luncheon Thursday with mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot and former CPD First Deputy Supt. John Escalante, Graham said federal oversight was not necessary and changes to CPD policy should be handled by an arbitrator.
“Everything that can be done can be done by negotiating between the FOP, the city of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department,” Graham said. “The reforms that are needed are not needed by a federal judge.”
The panel discussion elicited several testy exchanges between Graham and Lightfoot, the former president of the Chicago Police Board.
Last month, Dow denied the FOP’s motion to intervene and join as a party to Madigan’s lawsuit. The union has since appealed.
Both Graham and Lightfoot addressed about a half dozen reporters in the rear of the Maggiano’s banquet hall before the panel started.
Several members of the FOP were seated just a few feet away from Lightfoot as she railed against the union and praised the consent decree. At one point, FOP Vice President Martin Preib — who also serves as the union’s spokesman — looked up from his lunch and said “bulls—” as Lightfoot was speaking to the assembled media just a few feet away from him. He declined when asked to comment on Lightfoot’s remarks but, in a tweet, he accused a Sun-Times reporter of eavesdropping.
State Sen. Kwame Raoul, the Democratic nominee for Madigan’s job, issued a statement saying he is “encouraged by the prospects for meaningful and sustainable change” and called the latest agreement on gun-pointing “an important advance, one that acknowledges the seriousness of the CPD’s need to earn the trust of the people it polices.”
The Illinois chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union likewise called the gun-pointing report requirement “welcome news” that was reached because the city “heeded recent public demands supporting this common-sense proposal.”
But it wasn’t enough, the ACLU said. They want the decree revised still further to include a crisis intervention program and addresses how police interact with people with disabilities.
Lightfoot, who resigned as Police Board president to run for mayor, applauded the agreement.
“It’s a very serious thing when an officer believes it’s not just necessary to unholster his gun but to point his gun at someone with the potential to use deadly force,” Lightfoot said. “That is something that absolutely should be documented every time.”
Police officers already are required to document the use of force. This just adds a little more documentation, Lightfoot said.
“This is simply a matter of adding a check box to a form that has already been in use since the early 2000s.”