In early 2017, the United States Department of Justice concluded a yearlong civil rights investigation of the Chicago Police Department. The investigation confirmed what many Chicago residents already knew—that CPD has a history of serious problems endangering the lives of both residents and police officers. That history has had terrible consequences for both police and residents. African American and Latino communities in particular have felt targeted by racially discriminatory policing, and city taxpayers have paid more than $930 million in settlements for improper police conduct. At the same time, the mistrust of police has hurt the ability of officers to do their jobs, which makes communities less safe and puts the lives of officers at risk.
For the first time in Chicago's history, there is a court order mandating broad police reform. The goal of that court order—known as a consent decree—is to put in place reforms that govern police training and policies and provide officers the support they need to implement safe and constitutional policing practices. A consent decree requiring effective, lasting reforms is the only way to begin to build trust between Chicago's residents and police.
To make sure that the police reforms mandated by a consent decree meet the needs of Chicago's communities and police officers, it is important that all Chicago residents have an opportunity to provide comments and suggestions on the implementation of the consent decree. This website was created by the Illinois Attorney General's Office to provide information and receive input on police reform from all interested Chicago residents during the consent decree negotiation process. Going forward, it will provide updates regarding the implementation of the consent decree.
For nearly 50 years, reviews of the Chicago Police Department have identified significant failures by CPD to act lawfully and to protect and serve all Chicago residents equally and fairly. In 1973, a blue-ribbon panel found that police misconduct was directed more often at people of color. In the years since, other significant investigations have identified racially discriminatory policing practices as well as widespread police abuse. This conduct has unquestionably hit African American and Latino residents the hardest.
Mistrust between Chicago's residents and police reached a boiling point in November 2015, after a videotape was released showing the fatal shooting over a year earlier of Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old African-American young man, by a Chicago police officer.
A consent decree is a detailed plan of police reforms that is approved by and enforced by a federal judge. Because it is enforced by a federal judge, a consent decree can set a high bar for police accountability and the protection of civil rights. It will also help ensure that Chicago police officers get the training resources and support police officers need to perform their jobs professionally and safely, because the requirements of the consent decree simply will not be satisfied without them.
The consent decree process is a proven tool for reforming police departments. It has worked to reform police departments in many other cities. An important aspect of a consent decree is that it requires progress on reforms be measured from the outside by:
The court ultimately will determine whether the City and CPD are meeting and maintaining the requirements of the consent decree. To assist the federal judge in evaluating the City's and CPD's actions and progress toward implementing reforms, the consent decree requires the selection and appointment by the court of an independent monitor.
Following an extensive selection process, the court appointed Maggie Hickey and her team as the independent monitor to help oversee implementation of the consent decree. The independent monitor will evaluate and issue public reports on whether the city and CPD are meeting the requirements of the consent decree. For more information on the independent monitor, visit the independent monitor's website at www.cpdmonitoringteam.com and/or click here.
The court also appointed the Honorable David H. Coar (ret.) as a special master to help facilitate dialogue and assist the Attorney General's Office, the City, and other stakeholders in resolving issues that could delay progress toward implementation of the consent decree.