The Crusader Newspaper Group

Chicago sued again to force police reforms

Crusader staff report

Opposition is mounting against Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his efforts to implement police reforms without scrutiny and oversight.

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Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed on Tuesday, August 29, a federal lawsuit to force court-monitored oversight of reforms within the Chicago Police Department.

“As the state attorney general, we are essentially stepping into the shoes of the Department of Justice – shoes that the DOJ has abandoned at this point,” Madigan said in a news conference to announce the lawsuit.

The move reinforces an effort by Chicago Black leaders and civil rights activists to force reforms within a police department that has lost the trust of the Black community. Critics argue that a department that for years has run amok cannot change itself on its own. In her lawsuit Madigan said the reforms are needed.

“Local policing is first and foremost a matter of local responsibility,’’ Justice spokesman Ian Prior said in response to the announcement of Madigan’s suit. “If the city and state can put in place policies and practices to ensure constitutional, proactive policing that actually serves to reduce Chicago’s rampant violent crime problems, that would be a positive step.”

The move is the latest effort to force Mayor Rahm Emanuel to enter into a consent decree that he verbally agreed to in the final days of the Obama administration.

Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and the Justice Department issued a scathing report that detailed deep racial problems within the Chicago Police Department.  The Justice Department and the city also issued “a statement of agreement” to find remedies to improve policing and to repair the public’s trust in the department.

Last month, Black Lives Matter activists filed their own federal lawsuit after Emanuel began to backpedal on his promises to implement police reforms under court oversight. Emanuel argued that such efforts are detrimental to police forces.

Emanuel changed his stance after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was sworn in under President Donald Trump’s administration.  Sessions, a conservative Republican known for his pro-police views, said the Obama administration’s consent decrees had “undermined respect for police and made – often- times – their job more difficult.”

Under the Obama administration, more than two dozen local law enforcement agencies, including Chicago, were investigated for misconduct. The police video showing the brutal killing of Laquan McDonald and numerous protests prompted the U.S. Department of Justice to open an investigation to determine if Chicago police officers engaged in a “pattern of practice” in committing civil rights violations on its citizens, particularly Blacks and minorities.

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