CHICAGO — The Chicago Police Department moved closer to compliance with its federal consent decree in the second half of 2021, according to a newly released report by the independent monitoring team tasked with grading the CPD’s reform efforts.
The 799-paragraph consent decree — a mandated series of widespread reforms triggered by the murder of Laquan McDonald by a CPD officer in 2014 — was entered by a federal judge in January 2019.
In its fifth semi-annual report, which graded the CPD’s adherence to the consent decree between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2021, the independent monitoring team assessed the CPD’s compliance with 523 paragraphs of the decree.
The monitoring team, led by former federal prosecutor Maggie Hickey, found the police department was at varying levels of compliance in 380 of those paragraphs — about 72 percent.
That’s an uptick from the fourth reporting, when the department was found to be complying with 52 percent of 507 paragraphs that were assessed. CPD Supt. David Brown said that the increase in adherence to the consent decree was a sign of “real and significant progress.”
Specifically, in the fifth reporting period, the CPD was in preliminary compliance in 281 paragraphs, secondary compliance in 76 paragraphs and full compliance in 23 paragraphs. Preliminary compliance means that the CPD has instituted a training policy with respect to a specific paragraph in the decree. Secondary compliance means that the department is conducting training on that policy. And full compliance refers to “adherence to policies within day-to-day operations,” according to the independent monitoring team.
“In the fifth reporting period, the City, the CPD, and Chicago faced ongoing challenges, including COVID-19 variants, rises in certain violent crimes, and significant attrition of officers and non-sworn personnel,” the monitoring team wrote in the report.
“We continue to have concerns regarding the CPD’s commitment to have constitutional policing and reform efforts lead its crime-fighting strategies. While the CPD has developed plans to approach Consent Decree reforms, these plans have yet to comprehensively integrate compliance efforts with community policing, impartial policing, community engagement, and its crime-fighting strategies.”
Though the consent decree contains 799 paragraphs, Bob Boik, the CPD’s executive director of constitutional policing and reform, said that just 566 of those are assessable. Each paragraph in the decree will be graded in the next reporting period, the independent monitoring team noted in the new report.
The U.S. Department of Justice opened an investigation into the CPD after the release of the now-infamous dashcam video that showed the killing of Laquan McDonald by former CPD officer Jason Van Dyke in 2014. The DOJ found that “CPD’s pattern or practice of unconstitutional force is largely attributable to deficiencies in its accountability systems and in how it investigates uses of force, responds to allegations of misconduct, trains and supervises officers, and collects and reports data on officer use of force.”
Following the DOJ investigation, the Illinois Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit against the CPD, resulting in the consent decree. The binding agreement is overseen by U.S. District Judge Robert Dow.
The decree was entered in early 2019 and was to remain in place for at least five years. However, last month, lawyers for the city and attorney general’s office requested that Dow approve a three-year extension, giving the consent decree life until at least 2027.
CPD leaders said there are three primary reasons for the multi-year extension: The addition of search warrants under the consent decree; a need to better organize the department’s technological infrastructure; and the pace at which middle managers are promoted within the CPD, particularly to the rank of sergeant.
“For many people in Chicago, the CPD’s compliance in the consent decree can’t come soon enough, and we agree,” Mary Grieb, of the attorney general’s office, said during last month’s hearing. “The problems we are seeking to address have roots that run many decades deep … We will be here as long as it takes. The people of Chicago deserve nothing less.”