Chicago police oversight not fait accompli

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The ABC7 I-Team has learned that Chicago companies are now working on proposals to present to the Emanuel administration for contracts to monitor police reform.

Under a new draft agreement submitted by the mayor's office to the Justice Department, those monitors would report only to DOJ, not to a federal judge.

When Justice officials originally unveiled Chicago police problems in January, the agency and the city were looking at a court-enforced consent decree.

At an unrelated west side event on Monday afternoon, Mayor Rahm Emanuel escaped the blistering heat and the hot topic of his police department reform plan-not taking questions about why he no longer favors court supervision of police reform.

At the end of the mayor's appearance, his police superintendent Eddie Johnson was put on the hot seat. Supt. Johnson answered questions about the new plan to cut federal courts from the reform plan. "Nothing is solid yet" said Johnson. "We are still in negotiations with it and we will just have to see where it lands. But again, we are committed to reform. I know that some folks feel more comfortable if you have a consent decree; some folks feel comfortable with a collaborative agreement; some folks feel comfortable with a memorandum of agreement."

On January 13 President Obama's Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced a consent decree agreement with the city. It was to be a set of reforms supervised by the courts. The DOJ had found the Laquan McDonald incident and others showed a pattern and practice of civil rights violations by CPD.

At the time, DOJ had found "reasonable cause to believe that the Chicago Police Department (CPD) engages in a pattern or practice of using force, including deadly force, in violation of the fourth amendment of the constitution." According to the department's findings, "CPD officers' practices unnecessarily endanger themselves and result in unnecessary and avoidable uses of force. The pattern or practice results from systemic deficiencies in training and accountability, including the failure to train officers in de-escalation and the failure to conduct meaningful investigations of uses of force."

The Trump administration doesn't favor court-enforced reforms, and even though current DOJ officials say there is no agreement yet, it seems likely that what the Emanuel administration is asking for it will get.

Justice Department officials on Monday were going over the city's proposed memorandum of understanding. There will undoubtedly be some back and forth before an actual agreement is reached and announced but a Justice spokesman said the department looks forward to working with the city to find a resolution that promotes public safety and protects civil rights.
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