The national dialogue about the relationship between police and the communities they serve is very much active here in Illinois, specifically Chicago. Tensions between the Chicago police and many of the communities served by police run high today. In 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a scathing report about practices and training in CPD, problems that exacerbate and heighten the tensions between police and – especially – communities of color.  It is clear that Chicago’s policing system if broken and in need of systemic reform, with federal court oversight.  The current Attorney General is negotiating a federal consent decree with the City of Chicago to reform the Chicago Police Department.  

Will you pledge to urgently pursue and enforce a comprehensive consent decree with the City of Chicago, and involve community and civil rights groups in the monitoring and enforcement of the consent decree reforming the Chicago Police Department?  If so, how? If not, why?


ERIKA HAROLD:

DID NOT RESPOND.


BUBBA HARSY:

I will pursue and enforce the consent decree with the City of Chicago reforming the Chicago police Department. That being said, the Consent Decree is a piece of paper, and is meaningless if we do not begin to hold bad acting government employees accountable for their actions. I believe that police officers in Chicago, as well as the rest of the United States know they have a duty to protect the constitutional rights of the people they interact with while performing their duties as a law enforcement officers. Regardless of a consent decree, law enforcement officers know they have a duty to protect the constitutional rights of people they serve. This notion that law enforcement officers do not know this because there has not been a consent decree in the past is absurd.
 
If bad acting law enforcement officers were held to the same standard of law as the people they enforce the laws against, the consent decree would be unnecessary. If we held bad acting law enforcement officers that look the other way when a coworker committed a crime accountable as an accomplice to the crime they helped cover up, the consent decree would be unnecessary. The consent decree makes people feel good that the government is taking action to resolve the issues of police brutality, but if we are not going to hold bad acting law enforcement officials for their actions, it is just a feel good piece of paper that does not change anything.
 
Regardless of the language in the consent decree, I will hold bad acting law enforcement officers accountable for their actions throughout the state of Illinois. Furthermore, anyone that helps cover up the crimes of a government coworker will be prosecuted as a criminal accomplice. In the event there is not enough evidence for a criminal prosecution, but it is obvious from the facts that a government official did not objectively adhere to their duties and responsibilities, they will be removed from their position via quo warranto proceedings.
 
Other than attending law school, I have been a lifelong resident of Illinois, and I am tired of only seeing government accountability for state government employees through the federal government. The people of Illinois deserve better, and the attorney general’s office should be the position in Illinois that holds bad acting government officials accountable for their acts. It should not require the federal government’s involvement to fix our problems, and I would like to be the attorney general that holds state employees accountable for their wrongful acts.
 
That being said, as attorney general, I would fully support any federal assistance in holding bad acting government officials and employees accountable for their bad actions. Corruption is rampant in Illinois and it is going to require a group effort to get things back on track.

KWAME RAOUL: 

As attorney general, I will continue the office’s involvement in the consent decree process as long as it remains the most effective way of holding the Chicago Police Department’s feet to the fire so that genuine, systemic change occurs at CPD. I am deeply disappointed that after the Department of Justice conducted an investigation that clearly identified problematic practices within CPD, the DOJ’s new leadership under the current administration chose to ignore the evidence – in Chicago and other cities – and chose not to work with the police department, the City and, most importantly, members of the communities being policed to promote the appropriate use of force and effective, fair policing. In this instance as in so many others, it is critical for the Illinois attorney general to step up where the federal government has stepped back and failed in its duty to protect civil rights.

As a state legislator, I sponsored landmark law enforcement reforms that banned chokeholds, established standards for the use of officer-worn cameras, implemented new training requirements to ensure that officers statewide are educated on implicit bias and the appropriate use of force, and created a database to share information about cops who resign under investigation so that other departments do not unknowingly hire them. I have also passed legislation mandating the investigation of all police-involved shootings. I believe a consent decree – negotiated with the full involvement of the communities being policed and monitored by civil rights groups as well as by my office and the court – is the next essential step in pushing CPD to adopt and meaningfully enforce reforms that prevent future Laquan McDonalds from falling victim to the consequences of poor training and discipline in law enforcement.


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