A new report says the Chicago Police Department is making progress under the 2019 U. S. Department of Justice Consent Decree, but it also shows the department regressed in the areas of use of force, transparency and accountability.
Those areas remain a concern in Black Chicago, where police have often been accused of using excessive force on civilians while police investigations leave more questions than answers.
However, the report by the Independent Monitoring Teams said police training helped the CPD achieve a 73 percent compliance rate of the consent decree in the second half of 2021.
The latest report said CPD “devoted significant attention” to its foot pursuit policy, as it struggled to achieve community engagement and community trust.
The report is a significant improvement from the first half of 2021, where CPD had just a 52 percent compliance rate of the consent decree.
That report also said CPD met 26 of the 52 agreed-upon deadlines. One of those missed deadlines included a foot pursuit policy in the wake of the shooting death of Adam Toledo in March 2021. In response to the shooting, the department implemented a temporary foot pursuit policy. However, the department missed a September deadline for a permanent policy.
The report said in the area of training, the department “significantly improved in the resources allocated” to some trainings, though the department still has challenges efficiently tracking attendance.
Chicago Police Superintendent David Brown said the latest report marks “real and significant progress.” In response to community input, the report said the department began requiring officers to physically intervene (not just verbally) when they see other officers using excessive force on a civilian.
But a chart in the report shows that CPD in the second half of 2021 was not fully in compliance of the consent decree’s standards of use of force, accountability and transparency.
In fact, the report shows CPD actually regressed in those areas after showing some progress in the first half of 2021 under preliminary compliance. By the end of the year, CPD showed no type of compliance at all in use of force, accountability and transparency.
In the area regarding the use of force, which involves the use of Tasers in public schools, the report said CPD has not, however, made changes to “strongly discourage” the use of Tasers in schools and on students in the School Resource Officer policy.
In the area of transparency, the report said CPD regressed after it failed to follow through with their draft training plans but the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) remained in compliance during the last half of 2021.
The report said the department is now in compliance in 380 out of 523 sections in the consent decree that were assessed. That includes preliminary compliance with 281 sections and secondary compliance with 76. It was found in full compliance with just 23.
Despite the department’s progress, the report suggests the force still has a long way to go.
According to the report “The CPD’s community engagement efforts continue to frustrate members of Chicago’s communities.”
The report says CPD is late in seeking input from the community on its policies, depriving residents of the chance to give feedback during the formative phase of the plans. The report also says the department has two different ways to practice community policing. That is the Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy (also known as CAPS) with its Neighborhood Policing Initiative (also known as NPI).
The report said the CPD is “insufficient” in “community engagement during its policy development procedures, as well as its lack of comprehensive and layered community engagement and policing strategies.”
“It is still unclear whether and how community comments and feedback are incorporated into policies under revision,” the report says.
In a special letter attached to the biannual report, Maggie Hickey, the former federal prosecutor and the court-appointed independent monitor said CPD made “major changes” with respect to the consent decree, but the department also listed outgoing problems affecting its efforts to comply with the consent decree.
Those challenges were insufficient staffing and retention in the department’s office of community policing, and the Bureau of Internal Affairs, which investigates misconduct in the department, has lagged behind the progress of other departments.
In her letter, Hickey wrote, “Constitutional and effective policing and the Consent Decree require more than a simple checklist: the CPD and other relevant City entities must become learning organizations, capable of identifying new and existing challenges and implementing corresponding solutions.”
Hickey said CPD must “significantly improve and demonstrate its commitment” to community engagement as well as data collection, analysis and management.
The CPD has been under a consent decree since 2019. It came two years after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice found the CPD engaged in a “pattern of practice” of violating the civil rights of Blacks and minorities as they patrolled low-income neighborhoods. The investigation was in response to the 2014 brutal death of Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times by Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke.
The 2019 Consent Decree gives the CPD five years to implement reforms under court oversight. But last month, a federal judge extended the consent decree deadline from five to eight years.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the initial five-year deadline was unrealistic considering other police departments across the country have taken a decade or longer to satisfy consent decrees. Lightfoot told the Sun Times that the city likely will have to spend at least $50 million toward her goal of creating a “completely transformed” police department.