* Between 2010 and 2016, Chicago taxpayers shelled out an astounding $936 million for settlements, judgments and legal expenses in police misconduct cases. And the city used bonding to pay some of that tab, which drove costs up even higher.
From last week…
Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan are close to unveiling a proposed court agreement intended to govern reforms in the Chicago Police Department, attorneys said Friday in federal court.
The lone sticking point, attorneys said, remains whether the department must document incidents in which an officer points a gun at a person.
That is indeed a big sticking point for the cops. But just last month, the Chicago City Council approved a $2.5 million settlement of an excessive force lawsuit filed by the family of a 3-year-old girl after an officer pointed a gun at her chest while striking her handcuffed mother.
* Consent decrees do appear to work elsewhere…
CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley reports in New Orleans, a consent decree implemented five years ago had a dramatic effect on brutality complaints. An oversight report last year said, “The monitoring team did not locate any litigation for the past two years, alleging excessive use of force.”
A study of 23 departments under consent decrees, including New Orleans, found lawsuits dropped dramatically – from 23 to 36% each year, in each city.
* The Chicago FOP says that the resulting data on officers pulling their guns could be used to taint cops who are just doing their jobs. But…
[Chicago Inspector General Joe Ferguson] said police officers shouldn’t oppose the clause, since if they are behaving properly and following department protocols when they pull their guns, the data wouldn’t be held against them.
* The police also complain about the added paperwork…
But the Chicago Police Department and the Fraternal Order of Police oppose the measure. One retired sargent said he believes the policy would just complicate officers’ jobs further.
“We already have a report, every time a police officer has an encounter with somebody, they have to fill out a report, it’s like 70 boxes,” said retired CPD Sargent Peter Koconis. “When you add something else to this mix, you’re taking a good active police officer and you’re putting him down for 20-30 minutes, just filling out paper work for absolutely nothing.”
Back to Ferguson…
Ferguson said he doesn’t buy the argument that reporting every instance when an officer draws a weapon would be overly burdensome. He argued that there are “very, very easy technologically-based fixes” for reporting those incidents.
“It is not a significant added burden. And the fact of the matter is, it is far too important to leave on the cutting room floor in terms of what we are monitoring and tracking with respect to use of force,” he said.
* More Ferguson…
The inspector general argued that pointing a gun — “separate from it being an officer” — is a “use of force that under the law constitutes an aggravated assault” because it involves the use of “potentially deadly force.”
That’s why it’s become a “pretty standard provision that those incidents be reported, tracked, analyzed and accounted for,” both in “the context of consent decrees and reforms outside of consent decrees,” Ferguson said.
“Beyond that — and I speak about this both from a professional context and a personal context because I’ve been on the receiving end of a gun being pointed at me in my past, it is a fundamentally perspective-changing event to occur,” Ferguson said. “To think that it has little to do with how the community perceives the police would be blinking reality. So, it’s a really important thing to fold into how it is that we monitor the use of force.”
A robber pulled a gun on Ferguson when he was young, and then the cops pulled their guns on him when they responded.
* But the Chicago FOP has pledged to fight the consent decree to the bitter end…
The Trump administration rightly dismissed the methodology and findings of this DOJ investigation and declined to impose a consent decree.
Despite this, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Mayor Rahm Emanuel broke new legal ground to create their own consent decree. We believe this action is not legal, not moral, politically motivated and is one of the most disturbing examples of how political careers in Chicago are built by attacking the police.
Because so much of Chicago’s media is also deeply allied to the various factions of the anti-police movement, little real debate or discussion of the merits or consequences of this bizarre and dangerous consent decree have taken shape in the City.