Independent monitor says Chicago police consent decree compliance improving

Chicago News

CHICAGO — The Chicago Police Department’s efforts to comply with a federal consent decree improved in the first six months of 2021.

The independent monitoring team — led by former federal prosecutor Maggie Hickey and tasked with tracking the CPD’s adherence to the mandated reforms — found that the department was in compliance with more than 50% of the benchmarks that were graded during the first half of the year.

Between January and June, the independent monitoring team assessed 519 of the 799 paragraphs of the consent decree, according to a report filed Friday by the independent monitoring team.

Of those 519, the CPD was found to be in some level of compliance with 266 of them — about 52%. The police department didn’t reach any level of compliance in 215 paragraphs.

While the overall number and percentage of compliant paragraphs increased, the independent monitoring team noted that the CPD’s data policies — especially those related to foot pursuits — still need improvement.

“Data quality is crucial to demonstrating compliance across all 10 sections of the Consent Decree,” Hickey said in a statement. “The CPD will need to improve data collection, management, and analysis to provide greater effectiveness, transparency, and accountability for Chicago’s communities, including the CPD’s own officers.”

CPD Supt. David Brown said the department’s data collection and analysis shortcomings can largely be attributed to staffing vacancies.

“That particular position is a difficult position to recruit because, obviously, that’s a highly sought after skillset, but we are aggressively pursuing filling those vacancies,” Brown said. “The consent decree is data-driven, so those are critical positions and we recognize that and we are really pushing getting those positions hired, on the ground, writing programs and doing data analysis.”

In an joint statement, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Brown highlighted the department’s recent revisions of use-of-force policies, the mandatory 40 hours of annual in-service training for officers and the expansion of the CPD’s Neighborhood Policing Initiative to 10 of the city’s 22 police districts.

In the previous reporting period, the independent monitoring team assessed 315 paragraphs of the consent decree and found the police department in compliance with 48% of them.

The consent decree was brought on by a lawsuit filed against the city by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office in 2017 following the release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video and the subsequent investigation of the CPD by the U.S. Department of Justice. Federal investigators found that CPD officers were poorly trained, used force too often and unnecessarily endangered themselves and civilians.

U.S. District Judge Robert Dow entered the consent decree in early 2019. Since he was named superintendent of the CPD in April 2020, David Brown has repeatedly called the requirements in the consent decree “a floor, not a ceiling.”

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