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?
DID NOT RESPOND.
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.