CHICAGO — The Chicago Police Department’s staffing and training practices have seriously hampered its ability to comply with obligations in its consent decree, a federal monitor said in a report released last week.
In its sixth bi-annual report on the CPD’s reform efforts, the Independent Monitoring Team, led by former federal prosecutor Maggie Hickey, said it maintains “significant concerns about the lack of consistent staffing and retention levels within the City and the CPD in areas crucial to the efficient implementation of the requirements of the Consent Decree, including key training supervision, and accountability responsibilities.”
“The City and CPD must continue to make efforts to maintain staffing at appropriate levels at all times in these key areas,” the monitoring team continued.
The latest report gauged the CPD’s compliance reform efforts during the first six months of 2022. The independent monitoring team categorizes the CPD’s compliance in three ways: preliminary, secondary and operational. Preliminary compliance signals that the CPD has developed a training policy to address consent decree mandates. Secondary compliance means that training has started. And operational compliance means the policy has taken hold and is part of the CPD’s day-to-day operations.
In the sixth reporting period, the independent monitoring team found the CPD achieved some level of compliance in about 78% of the consent decree’s requirements. However, the majority of compliant paragraphs were still in the preliminary stage.
“In the sixth reporting period, the City and the CPD continued making progress toward compliance with the Training section of the Consent Decree, but the IMT has real concerns about whether the CPD can fulfill their obligations to provide high quality, in-service training to all officers by the required deadline,” the monitoring team wrote.
“Our concerns stem from, for example, the consistent deployment of Education and Training Division (ETD) personnel into the field, which hinders progress on training tasks and duties. As of this filing, the CPD has fallen behind in their in-service training provision for this year and we are uncertain about whether they can complete their requirements for this year.”
In future compliance assessments, the independent monitoring team said, “our focus will naturally shift from preliminary deadlines to measurements of effective and sustained practices.”
Earlier this year, CPD Supt. David Brown abruptly fired the head of the CPD’s Office of Constitutional Policing and Reform, Robert Boik. Boik’s ouster last August came after he protested Brown’s plan to shift several dozen officers out of the constitutional policing office and into the Patrol Bureau.
“While the Superintendent has the discretion and responsibility for these decisions, we must acknowledge that Mr. Boik’s termination sent a demoralizing message to police officers, supervisors, and other CPD personnel, especially those sworn and nonsworn personnel within the Office of Constitutional Policing and Reform who have been painstakingly committed to enacting the required reforms,” the independent monitoring team wrote.
Boik was not the only central figure in the consent decree to leave their post in recent months. U.S. District Judge Robert Dow oversaw the lawsuit that led to the consent decree — filed by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office in the wake of the release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video — and he ultimately selected Hickey’s team to monitor the CPD’s reform efforts.
In October, Dow was appointed chief of staff to John Roberts, the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. After Dow’s departure, the consent decree case was reassigned to Chief Judge of the Northern District of Illinois Rebecca Pallmeyer.
The Chicago Tribune reported last month that Pallmeyer held a hearing in which city residents spoke of their largely negative interactions with CPD officers since the consent decree was entered.
In a statement last week, Supt. Brown said “we cannot be an effective police department without having the trust of our residents behind us.”
“As we continue in our journey to continuously improve CPD through reform, we remain committed to creating a police department that every single person in Chicago is confident in,” Brown said. “We stand true to our promise to listen and learn from our community members as we all work together to make our beautiful city safer for everyone.”
Addressing the CPD’s community engagement efforts, the independent monitoring team wrote:
“Despite the CPD’s efforts to engage communities on specific policies, opportunities for community input continue to occur late in the policy development process for many policies under revision and only during public comment phases. When Chicago’s community members are invited to provide input only at the later stages of the policy development process, they are prevented from contributing during the formative stages and, in some instances, are effectively prevented from meaningfully participating at all.”