A proposed consent decree to reform the Chicago Police Department was released Friday afternoon by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
The 225-page decree proposes limiting police use of force in some instances, works to provide greater transparency in cases of police discipline but appears to leave some questions unanswered.
“Reform and public safety go hand-in-hand, and today Chicago is taking an important next step, but not our final step, on the road to reform and the journey to a safer, stronger Chicago,” Emanuel said.
Here are six things you need to know about the proposed decree:
Why does Chicago need a consent decree?
Now nine-months in the making, the consent decree grew out of the release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video and the subsequent federal investigation of the Chicago Police Department that found “reasonable cause” that the department engaged in a pattern of excessive force and racially discriminatory behavior.
What does the proposed consent decree say about cops using force?
The decree restricts use of force and requires greater transparency. Complaints to the City and COPA will be tracked at all stages, and by 2020 would allow the public to track those complaints online. The decree would implement a new foot pursuit policy, require the use of “verbal de-escalation” prohibit the use of Tasers when people are only fleeing and discourage their use in schools. The decree also adds further restriction on officers from shooting at moving vehicles.
Why is the consent decree so controversial?
The union representing most Chicago cops complains it hasn’t gotten a seat at the table over negotiations. Fraternal Order of Police President Kevin Graham on Friday called it “illegal and invalid” and wholly unnecessary. Activists worry the reforms won’t go far enough. One main point of contention: whether officers will be required to document every time when they point their weapons at someone. That point is still under negotiation. Currently, they’re required to report any time they use force.
Who will make sure the consent decree is enforced?
U.S. District Court Judge Robert Dow is presiding over the current court case, and a federal monitor is expected to be appointed to oversee compliance with the agreement. Solicitation for candidates begins today, with a deadline of Sept. 4. Responses will be posted for public comment and a public forum will be held with finalists.
Does the public get a say in this?
Members of the public can provide input for a 21-day period ending on August 17, 2018. The decree will be accessible online at chicagopoliceconsentdecree.org.
What does this mean for Chicago’s mayoral race?
Mayor Rahm Emanuel faces steep challenges to be re-elected in 2019, and police reforms figure to be a hot issue. One opponent, Lori Lightfoot, who resigned as Police Board president to run for mayor, has made reforms to the CPD a focus. Ex-Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy, who’s also running, has voiced support for cops’ rights.