Chicago aldermen consider how to fund, implement DOJ changes for CPD

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Chicago aldermen met Wednesday to begin discussions about funding and implementing changes to the Chicago Police Department based on the Justice Department's report. (WLS)

On the heels of the Justice Department's critical report on the Chicago Police Department, aldermen are now asking how the city will implement changes to improve transparency, accountability for bad officers and training.

Over the past few days, aldermen have been briefed on the DOJ report by the city's Law Department. The findings were not a surprise to them, but now they have many more questions about how to change the Chicago police in practice and image.

"It's going to take a real overhaul. Top to bottom," said Alderman Emma Mitts (37th Ward).

"People are upset, people are disappointed in the system, people are no longer accepting this behavior going forward, so whatever's in that report we need to see it, need to hold people accountable, then move on," said Alderman George Cardenas (12th Ward).

There were private meetings for aldermen on Friday, Tuesday and Wednesday about the report with the Law Department.

"Every member needs to read the report one end to the other," said Alderman Raymond Lopez (15th Ward).

The DOJ report acknowledged some changes that have already been made to address institutional problems within the police department, problems that became the subject of the federal investigation with the release of the video of Laquan McDonald's fatal shooting by an officer.

"We changed IPRA to COPA and there's still some things we need to do to make to make sure that the civilian oversight committee is intact and is doing things that the people- at the will of the people," said Alderman Michael Scott, Jr. (24th Ward).

"I think the Justice Department is recognizing that these changes are being made, but that a lot more need to be made," said Alderman Jason Ervin (28th Ward).

"We're going to continue to do the right things for the city of Chicago. We're on the road to reform, there's no U-turn here," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Cook County Board President Tony Preckwinkle, herself a former city alderman, offered her perspective as well.

"Making these changes will not be easy. It will require tearing down a culture within the department that has existed for decades, even generations," she said.

While Preckwinkle puts the responsibility of Chicago police on the city, when it comes to funding she said paying for better training will cost the city far less than settling the wrongful death lawsuits.

Some aldermen are looking ahead to how to fund new police training and how the DOJ findings will play into union contracts for Chicago police officers.

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