As the deadline approaches for city officials and Attorney General Lisa Madigan to agree on how the Chicago Police Department should be reformed in the wake of the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald, lawyers will head back to court Wednesday morning.
The two sides are likely to update Judge Robert Dow Jr. on the only remaining area of disagreement between attorneys representing the city and the attorney general’s office, which centers on a the attorney general’s insistence that officers should be required to document every time he or she points a gun at a person.
Eileen Boyce, a spokeswoman for Madigan, confirmed Tuesday that the attorney general continues to support such a requirement in the consent decree which tops 200 pages and covers a host of topics, including when officers can use force, how they are supervised and held accountable for misconduct.
A spokesman for the city’s Law Department did not return a message from The Daily Line.
Under the department’s general orders, officers do not currently have to file a report if they point a gun at a person, officials said.
Karen Sheley, the director of the ACLU of Illinois’ Police Practice Project, said it was “shocking” that the department’s current rules do not require officers to file a report every time they point their weapon at a member of the public.
“Having a gun pointed at you by an officer is a serious thing,” Sheley said. “It should be documented. Don’t we want to know if officers are pulling guns on people?”
In addition, similar provisions are included in 10 of 12 consent decrees and are in place in New York and Los Angeles, Sheley said.
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After insisting for months that there was no need for a federal judge to oversee reforms at the CPD, Emanuel reversed course 11 months ago, sparking the negotiations that are almost complete in advance of a Sept. 1 deadline.
Madigan’s insistence that a federal judge oversee efforts to reforms were prompted by a U.S Justice Department finding that Chicago police officers routinely violated the civil rights of residents by using excessive force. It also found that officers were poorly trained and lacked supervision.
Last month, the City Council agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the family of a 3-year-old girl who was traumatized after officers pointed a gun at her during a raid of her family’s home.
As part of the reforms already announced by Emanuel and department brass, officers have received additional training on how to de-escalate tense situations in an effort to reduce the number of violent encounters between police and Chicagoans.
It will be impossible to assess the impact of that training unless the number of times officers use their weapons is documented, Sheley said.
ACLU officials have not yet seen the draft consent decree, and the fact that this issue remains a sticking point is concerning, Sheley said.
“I’m worried about what the rest of the consent decree looks like,” Sheley said.
Fraternal Order of Police President Kevin Graham has called the prospect of his officers working under the rules set by a federal judge “a potential catastrophe for Chicago.”
A spokesman for the police union did did not return a message from The Daily Line. Dow, the judge overseeing the case, has not ruled on the police union’s request to intervene in the case.
In a statement on its blog, the union vowed to “fight the creation of this consent decree, which, we believe, will have a devastating impact on the ability of our members to protect the public.”