CHICAGO – Joining the rising chorus of voices concerned with making real, lasting change in the way that the City of Chicago is policed, including from community and civil rights organizations, as well as former officials of the United States Department of Justice, the ACLU of Illinois today called on the City to abandon a reform proposal that does not include oversight by the federal judiciary. The call comes after the Emanuel Administration announced late last week that it would seek the appointment of an “independent monitor” selected by the City and the U.S. Department of Justice. The monitor would be charged with overseeing reforms to the badly damaged CPD, but could not require the CPD to allow investigations, dedicate resources to reform, enforce a timeline, or implement any specific reform, no matter how essential.
The ACLU made clear that this idea was not an acceptable fix to Chicago’s system of policing, a system sharply criticized in a DOJ report in January of this year.
“This proposal is a non-starter for anyone committed to real reform of Chicago’s broken system of policing,” said Karen Sheley, Director of the ACLU of Illinois Police Practices Project. “The City is proposing to sign a set of promises with a DOJ that is hostile to real police reform.”
“Worse still, such an agreement could not be enforced by the monitor, by the community or by anyone else – since it is not planned to be overseen by a federal court,” added Sheley. “The City cites Cincinnati as a model, but there, community groups, civil rights organizations and lawyers had a seat at the table throughout the process and were able to enforce the agreement in federal court.”
City officials cited about the proposal have sought to reassure the community by repeating that the CPD and City are “committed” to reforming policing across Chicago. But similar assurances in the past have not yielded results, as the City still has yet to implement many of the most critical recommendations from the Mayor’s Task Force – a report that is more than a year old now.
“The only real path to police reform in Chicago is through a consent decree overseen by a federal judge,” said Sheley. “That is what the City committed to when the DOJ completed its scathing report in January.”
“Now is not the time to back away.”