Reform watchdog ‘encouraged’ by Chicago police efforts, but Illinois attorney general blasts ‘lagging pace’Frank Mainon October 8, 2021 at 3:59 pm

Maggie Hickey. | Provided

Maggie Hickey, independent monitor of a consent decree requiring the Chicago Police Department to reform its policies on use of force, discipline, training and recruiting, says CPD blew about half its deadlines between January and July.

A police reform watchdog says she’s “encouraged” by the Chicago Police Department’s most recent efforts, though she noted in a report released Friday that just over half of about 500 reforms have been carried out even partially.

Maggie Hickey — the independent monitor for a federal consent decree requiring sweeping reforms to policies on officers’ use of force, discipline, training and recruiting — said the city met about half of its deadlines in the court order between January to July.

One of the biggest areas of improvement was in the department’s Crisis Intervention Section, which responds to people with mental illnesses, according to Hickey’s nearly 1,000-page report filed in federal court.

Hickey also commended the city for reaching a deal with the Fraternal Order of Police on an eight-year contract with new “accountability requirements.”

But she highlighted numerous areas where the department has fallen short.

For instance, the department is reforming its foot pursuit policy, but disabled a computer dashboard on foot chases after acknowledging the data it collected for the past two years was deeply flawed.

Hickey says she’s concerned that more than 360 officers left the department between January and July, more than in all of 2018.

And she says the department needs to do more to get citizens’ input on reforms.

“The CPD continues to fall short in its efforts to reach marginalized populations,” Hickey said.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois released a statement Friday saying “the monitor makes clear that CPD is not meaningfully engaging the public, missing the opportunity to solicit ideas and real life experiences for policies and approaches to combating violence.”

In 2015, the U.S. Justice Department launched an investigation of the Chicago Police Department in response to outrage over a video showing Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting Laquan McDonald 16 times and killing him. Van Dyke was later fired and went to prison.

In January 2017, the Justice Department concluded that Chicago officers engaged in a “pattern and practice” of civil-rights violations. Later in 2017, the Illinois attorney general’s office sued the city, alleging the same violations. The 2019 consent decree is a settlement in federal court between the city and the attorney general’s office, requiring hundreds of reforms.

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul.

In a letter attached to Hickey’s report, Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul criticized the “lagging pace” of the Chicago Police Department’s compliance with the reforms set out in the decree, saying the “goal of establishing community trust in CPD remains far in the distance.”

Raoul echoed Hickey’s praise for the department in improving its response to mentally ill people. And he said the Civilian Office of Police Accountability, which investigates allegations of police misconduct, and the Chicago Police Board, which decides whether officers should be punished, have made substantial progress in reforming their operations.

But he was critical of the roving police units police Supt. David Brown created after he was hired last year.

The Community Safety Team is deployed to the scenes of shootings and robberies and is supposed to work with neighborhood leaders to improve relations between the police and citizens.

The Critical Incident Response Team was created to “ensure the safety of residents and visitors during times of mass gatherings,” according to the department.

In his letter, Raoul said he was “concerned that the City and CPD continue to create and expand roving citywide units, such as the Community Safety Team, Critical Incident Response Team and newly announced gun team, which do not sufficiently incorporate community policing principles and do not use sufficient metrics to judge their effectiveness.”

Last month, the police department filed its own report in federal court outlining its efforts to comply with the consent decree. “We are proud of the progress we made,” Robert Boik, executive director of the Office of Constitutional Policing and Reform, told reporters after that report was filed. “This is a long haul.”

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