Citizens continue to talk about the consent decree for the Chicago Police Department (CPD) that moved forward on Jan. 31, after U.S. District Judge Robert Dow Jr. signed the order for its approval.
The decree calls for hundreds of changes to the department over the next five years, and while plenty of questions remain, citizens remain hopeful it reduces inappropriate police behavior.
New mandates include officers being banned from using a Taser on someone who is running away—specifically, they cannot use it on someone fleeing “without any other basis for reasonable articulable suspicion or probable cause”—and officers being required to report any incident in which they pull a gun.
Plans to create the decree began after police body-camera video was released in 2015 of teenager Laquan McDonald being shot and killed by officer Jason Van Dyke a year earlier.
Supporters hope the decree holds CPD officers more accountable. Detractors worry it could make officers less likely to pull their weapons if they know it will be documented, and that could make officers less safe.
They also voiced concerns about the annual $2.85-million budget for a team that will monitor police activity, but, as Dow pointed out, that’s small change compared to the $662 million the city has paid in settlements regarding police misconduct from 2004 to early 2016.
Taxpayers in Chicago have plenty to complain about, and they may now see some relief.
Officers consistently speak of the dangers they face every day—and they need to be heard. Documenting every time they pull a weapon might make people feel safer if they are worried that officers are abusing their power; however, it could also document just how many dangerous situations officers confront every day.
The court order to move forward with the decree is 230 pages, with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and now-retired Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan working to put it together.
Dow realized changes might not come immediately, but he was hopeful in his announcing his ruling.
“It took a long time to get to this place, and it may take a long time to get out of it,” Dow said. “With that said, there are good reasons to think that the conditions and incentives may be in place to start making progress right away.”
“Let us begin,” he added.
Chicagoans should take that approach; let’s give it a chance.