City Attends Hearing in Police Reform Lawsuit

7/12/2017, noon | Updated on 7/12/2017, noon
“It’s the right thing to do because our community has been affected the most by the injustice that has been ...
17-year-old Laquan McDonald is shot 16 times by Chicago Police Ocer Jason Van Dyke on Oct. 20, 2014 and dies.

“It’s the right thing to do because our community has been affected the most by the injustice that has been going on with the police department,” Beale said. “We need the police department to be partners with us to fight crime in our area. But if people don’t trust the police, then they’re not going to give them the information to help fight crime in the area. So, we have to reverse this trend.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has proposed a 70-page Memorandum of Understanding with the U.S. Justice Department and recently defended his decision to retreat on a consent decree. The mayor's MOA only includes an independent monitor, but he says the city of Chicago is still “on the road to reform even without a consent decree,” as reported by the Invisible Institute.

Sheila Bedi, who is an attorney at the Roderick MacArthur Justice Center, said the problem with the Mayor’s memorandum agreement is that it lacks the efforts to address the pervasive balance of racism in the Chicago Police Department. Bedi continued to state that the MOA wouldn’t be enforceable, transparent and would lack federal judicial oversight.

“When you look at jurisdictions around the country that have turned around their police departments, almost every single one of them has had federal court oversight,” she said. “That is absolutely imperative if we really want to change the Chicago Police Department.”

Lori Lightfoot, who is the President of the Chicago Police Board and one of the leaders who has read the Mayor’s 70-page Memorandum agreement, has called it “fundamentally flawed.”

“It doesn't contain enough detail that sets out a roadmap for the kind of reform that the [Chicago Police] Department needs to make,” Lightfoot said. “Without the specifics, it means that the proposed [independent] monitor is going to have not enough of a roadmap to evaluate whether or not the police department is making progress towards the goals that have been set.”

She explained that the details for the agreement between the City of Chicago and the DOJ should be the kind of specific details that the public and the DOJ can identify with in order to understand the reform that the Chicago Police Department should be driving towards.

“It doesn't really matter what you call it, as long as you have specifics and resources to support the reform efforts,” Lightfoot said. “But it should absolutely have a function of auditing to make sure that the reforms that are agreed to are the ones that are actually getting accomplished.”

Before the Mayor’s proposed memorandum agreement can go into effect, it would have to be approved by President Donald Trump along with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who as a U.S. Federal Prosecutor and Senator called a consent decree, "one of the most dangerous and rarely discussed exercises of raw power,” according to the Alabama Policy Institute.

Sessions also said in a memo on March 31, 2017, that “local control and local accountability are necessary for local policing. It is not the responsibility of the federal government to manage non-federal law enforcement agencies.”

In recent weeks, calls for negotiating a consent decree have come from Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle and Commissioner Jesus Garcia and from the editorial boards of the Chicago Tribune and Sun-Times.