Illinois Asks Court to Enforce Police Reforms in Chicago

CHICAGO (CN) – Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan brought a federal lawsuit Tuesday against Chicago, seeking federal court oversight to prevent the city’s police force from using unneeded excessive and deadly force against black and Latino residents.

Madigan announced the lawsuit at a press conference Tuesday, saying she hopes the Northern Illinois federal court will require the Chicago Police Department to develop a more transparent policy, at its own expense, that will prevent officers from unnecessarily killing and injuring the city’s minorities.

For decades, CPD has been notoriously known for using racially discriminatory policing practices against the city’s residents, “leading to the erosion of community trust and confidence in CPD,” according to the 35-page complaint filed in Chicago federal court.

The lawsuit is largely in response to several incidents involving the use of deadly force in situations where little or no force would have been reasonable, Madigan said.

“The force used by CPD officers exceeds the bounds established by federal and state law,” the lawsuit states. “CPD officers engage in a repeated pattern of using deadly force against suspects fleeing on foot who pose no immediate danger to anyone.”

Between 2007 and 2015, about 74 percent of the 404 people shot by CPD officers were black, even though they made up only 33 percent of Chicago’s population in 2010, according to the complaint.

To correct and prevent such problems in the future, Madigan argues federal reform is needed to improve the police department’s accountability, training and supervision policies.

She also wants to establish reliable officer assistance and support programs that will help to detect and deter officer misconduct by administering effective discipline when needed.

Madigan suggests that the city appoint an independent monitor to oversee the implementation of new policies, report directly to the court, and make their reports available to the general public.

Previous efforts to reform CPD have been unsuccessful because they “have not provided a comprehensive roadmap regarding what will be done, when it will be done, and what resources will be used to accomplish the needed changes,” according to the lawsuit.

The Chicago Alternative Policing Strategy program is currently understaffed, poorly funded and institutionally neglected, Madigan claims. She says the same problems affect the police department’s Employee Assistance Program, which is not only understaffed, but underresourced and underutilized as well, despite some officers’ obvious need for mental and emotional wellness programs.

Through the lawsuit, Madigan says she hopes to protect not only the city’s residents, but also to support the officers brave enough to take on their difficult responsibilities. Over the past 10 years, twice as many officers have died from suicide compared to deaths in the line of duty, according to the complaint.

“Given the nature, extent, and history of the city’s unlawful police practices, the city will continue to engage in the unconstitutional and illegal conduct alleged herein, causing irreparable harm to the people of Chicago—as it has for decades—unless directed by this court pursuant to a judicially enforceable consent decree,” the complaint states.

Although his city is named as the sole defendant in the complaint, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel supports the legal effort and appeared with Madigan at Tuesday’s press conference.

“The Trump administration has rejected the path of a consent decree … and it became clear they are disinterested in reform,” he told reporters, according to the Associated Press. “We do not have a partner in the Trump administration Justice Department. We have a partner in the Illinois attorney general.”

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