Police union vows to sue over consent decree

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CHICAGO POLICE SUPERINTENDENT Eddie Johnson, Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan listen to questions about the first draft of the consent decree.

Crusader Staff Report

The leader of the Chicago police union vows to sue to block the approval of a consent decree that seeks to implement reforms in the Chicago Police Department under court oversight.

Kevin Graham, president of the Fraternal Order of Police said his organization was never consulted or included in the talks and the Federal government, not Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, has the jurisdiction and authority to protect the civil rights of citizens.

Graham made the comments on WTTW Chicago Tonight on Monday, July 30, three days after a 232-page draft of the consent decree was released during a press conference in Chicago. Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson joined Madigan as she announced the agreement 18 months after a scathing U.S. Justice Department report found systemic misconduct within the CPD.

Madigan filed suit last August to force Emanuel and the CPD into a consent decree after the mayor stalled on a promise to former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to implement reforms under court oversight. As part of the negotiations, activists from Black Lives Matter which filed its own lawsuit, were allowed to include their list of demands for the CPD.

Johnson had already implemented some reforms in his department, requiring that body cameras be worn on police officers. He has also eq-uipped officers with more Tasers and beefed up staffing and tweaked training. The consent decree would require officers to provide life-saving aid and implement more de-escalation tactics. It would also restrict officers from shooting at moving vehicles and force the department to adopt a policy prohibiting the use of Tasers for flight alone. To help promote transparency during investigations into alleged police misconduct, the consent decree would allow the public to track the status of complaints online.

The lone sticking point is whether officers should document every instance where a gun is pointed at someone. Chicago Police Board president and mayoral candidate Lori Lightfoot called the issue a “no-brainer” and challenged Emanuel to stop opposing the requirement.

Graham agrees with the mayor on the gun issue but he is also disappointed that his organization wasn’t included in the negotiations which involved Madigan, the mayor and Johnson.

“We have filed to intervene in this case. We have a motion for Lisa Madigan to be dismissed from this case,” Graham said. “We believe that we’re on very legal, sound ground. We tried to work with the attorney general. We tried to discuss the issues about our contract. But certainly there were things in this consent decree that they never discussed with us. Certainly there are things that we’re concerned about in terms of body cameras, which we had been negotiating.  We had several negotiating sessions with the city and apparently they had already struck a deal with the attorney general, which was a little disconcerting to us.”

Graham said his organization opposes the consent decree, saying “civil rights cases are brought by the federal government. She (Madigan) is the attorney for the state of Illinois. I don’t know how you violate the civil rights of the state of Illinois. You have to violate a person’s civil rights and that is brought by the federal government and the Justice Department.”

Asked by Chicago Tonight host Carol Marin whether there should be documentation every time an officer points a gun at someone, Graham said, “I’m concerned with an officer’s hesitation. The reality is we have an officer with severe brain injuries because she was in her own words don’t want to be the next Jason Van Dyke (who shot Laquan McDonald 16 times) and she doesn’t want to be scrutinized. We can’t have officers hesitate. It’s a life and death situation. We just can’t have someone being worried about being second guessed.”

The consent decree must be approved by a judge before it goes into effect.

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