A federal judge approved a consent decree Thursday that will govern changes within the Chicago Police Department to address a history of problematic policing.
This is a historic and hopeful moment for a city that has endured decades of misconduct and mistrust, mainly between communities of color and police officers. For the first time, Chicago has an enforceable, detailed plan for reform that will ensure constitutional, effective and safe policing for residents and police officers.
The Chicago Police Department now has one of the most comprehensive plans for reform in the country. The provisions were drafted and informed with guidance from the nation’s top policing experts, concerned and engaged Chicago residents, and police officers and their supervisors.
The tragic reality is that too many Chicago residents, especially members of Chicago’s African-American and Latino communities, have been treated inappropriately and experienced unjustified violence at the hands of the police.
The police and their unions also rightly complain that Chicago has “policed on the cheap.” For too many years, officers have had insufficient support, numbers, training, supervision and mental health care.
The provisions in the consent decree reflect and respond to the concerns and needs of everyone in Chicago to address these terrible realities and move Chicago toward having a modern, model police department.
Many Chicagoans have worked and waited a lifetime to see real change that will make them and their families safe. I am grateful for their efforts and sacrifices.
Though the road to real reform will not be short, the record of police reform in other cities shows that the time it takes to improve policing depends largely on the willingness of the city and the police department to resource and adopt the policies and practices detailed in consent decrees. The hardest work starts now. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Superintendent Eddie Johnson must meet deadlines in the upcoming weeks and months to lead the Chicago Police Department into a new era.
While this spring’s mayoral election will result in new leadership for Chicago, the terms adopted for police reform will remain in place because the federal judge supervises and enforces the consent decree — not City Hall. That is why the consent decree promises real, lasting police reform. It is not subject to the types of politicians’ whims that have thwarted past reform efforts.
Nonetheless, Chicagoans should demand that our next mayor adhere to the requirements and timing in the consent decree without needing the constant intervention of the federal judge overseeing the case. A failure to adopt necessary reforms will delay progress and slow improvement.
I believe we are at a new beginning, not an end, of Chicago’s long, difficult journey to ensure appropriate, respectful, safe and constitutional policing.
Much difficult work remains, but this remarkable milestone should give hope to all Chicagoans that we will be able to live safely and thrive in our wonderful city.
Lisa Madigan was the attorney general of Illinois from 2003 until 2019.
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via Commentary – Chicago Tribune https://trib.in/2b2aIzV
January 31, 2019 at 05:18PM