Police reform in Chicago is not only a matter of public importance for the city’s residents; it also has an impact on other cities and states. If Chicago gets it right, this might turn out to be the blueprint for reform in other places. If it goes wrong, then other states and cities may be reluctant to implement their own police reform initiatives.
At the moment, there is a difference of opinion between Mayor Rahm Emanuel and City Hall. There are many interested parties, including members of the public, the law enforcement agencies, the courts, and even the politicians. The mayor had originally picked a watchdog group to oversee the process, but others think there should be more involvement from various community organizations. A federal judge has been called in to oversee the process. Some see this as a way to avoid working with the Trump Administration and the US Justice Department.
New Convictions and Cases
Three Chicago police agents were indicted for covering up a crime that was committed against Laquan McDonald when he was shot by the police. A member of the public took a video of the incident, which later came to light. This caused a public outcry that eventually led to the charges that must involve some level of community engagement. There was a civil rights investigation that lasted 13 months. It was held at a federal level.
The final report showed that there was an urgent need to reform the Chicago police system completely in order to prevent such abuses from coming up again. The key problems that were identified included the abuse of police authority and even the use of excessive force when arresting suspects. At the time, President Barack Obama had signed an agreement with the mayor. It basically required Chicago to do a full review of the police activities in the area. The federal justice department was supposed to be involved. But, it seems that the mayor is going back on that part of the agreement. A federal consent decree was used to allow for the appointment of a federal judge to oversee the review process.
The New Out-of-Court Agreement
After Trump became president, Mayor Rahm Emanuel decided to renegotiate the deal with an out-of-court review. Inspector General Joseph Ferguson is one of the senior officers that have come out against this move. He argues that the investigation has to have credibility. That means that a judge must be overseeing the entire process.
For the families that have been affected by police abuse, this is an important inquiry that could possibly lead to some cases being reviewed or overturned. The Police Accountability Task Force in Chicago also stated that the only way to give justice to the victims is for a respected federal judge to be involved. Otherwise, it might end up being a whitewash like many self-inquiries by the police have turned out to be.
Bill Ruthhart of the Chicago Tribune wrote, “As he has for weeks, Emanuel on Wednesday argued that a deal with the Trump Justice Department would include an appointed monitor to oversee reforms, if not a judge. The mayor, however, has declined to release details of the proposal he has sent to the Trump administration or detail how such a monitor would be selected.”
The mayor has accused Attorney General Jeff Sessions of walking away from an earlier deal and forcing the city to have a change of heart. The mayor insists that the city wanted to work with the Justice Department. He claims it was the Justice Department that refused to work with them.
Options for Victims
If you have been the victim of police brutality or police abuse, contact David Freidberg Attorney at Law at telephone number 312-567-7100 for advice on how to get your case resolved. We are experienced and committed criminal defense lawyers.
(image courtesy of Nicolas Barbier Garreau)