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Common sense or “bizarre and dangerous”?

Thursday, Jul 26, 2018

* 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.

Thoughts?

- Posted by Rich Miller        

43 Comments
  1. - 47th Ward - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 12:14 pm:

    ===Chicago taxpayers shelled out an astounding $936 million for settlements, judgments and legal expenses in police misconduct cases.===

    That’s mind boggling.


  2. - Colin O'Scopy - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 12:18 pm:

    For every double-digit settlement the City enters into only serves as a roadmap for other double-digit settlements. I wonder if the City would be better off going to trial? I also suppose of lot of these settlements are politically motivated in order to make it all “go away”. But unless the police stop doing the things that result in lawsuits, it ain’t never going away. It’s a flywheel that never stops and moves faster as it propels forward.


  3. - Colin O'Scopy - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 12:21 pm:

    Adding: that sever year period, 2010 to 2016 comes out to $133.7 million a year. That money could have gone a long way to solving the pension crisis and, ironically, the police pension shortfall.


  4. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 12:22 pm:

    I assumed it already had to be reported. Learn something new every day.

    Yes, it’s common sense that you need to report the reasons you pulled a gun and pointed it at someone. Presumably, there was a belief that the potential need for deadly force was imminent.

    Why wouldn’t it be SOP to report that? That’s as serious as it gets, until the trigger is pulled.


  5. - Almost the weekend - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 12:23 pm:

    Take it out of their pension fund, will help weed out bad cops and create a necessity to report when cops go rouge instead of sticking together in situations like with the Mcdonald shooting


  6. - Henry Francis - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 12:26 pm:

    ===Chicago taxpayers shelled out an astounding $936 million for settlements, judgments and legal expenses in police misconduct cases.===

    That’s mind boggling.==

    It is. But it is over a 16 year period and was to compensate people for being shot and killed by police.

    The state ran up a bigger tab - in just one year - from not paying its bills on time.


  7. - Colin O'Scopy - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 12:30 pm:

    @Henry Francis:

    =It is. But it is over a 16 year period and was to compensate people for being shot and killed by police.=

    I think you need to take a closer look at the time frame. The link to the article says the time frame was 2010-2016, a 7 year period, not 16 years as you suggest.


  8. - Colin O'Scopy - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 12:32 pm:

    And @Henry Francis, let’s dispatch with the false equivalency.

    $936 million dollars is a boat-load of money to spend on settlements on “police related activities”, like shootings and beatings.


  9. - Deadbeat Conservative - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 12:33 pm:

    =The state ran up a bigger tab - in just one year - from not paying its bills on time. =

    Yeah - but we can avoid a service tax in our service economy, - because it’s worth a billion/year.


  10. - PublicServant - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 12:34 pm:

    ===“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.===

    Joe, in the future, I would hope that you and Rahm could get along better.


  11. - DaleyMail - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 12:39 pm:

    “Joe, in the future, I would hope that you and Rahm could get along better.”

    If they didn’t get along, Joe would be digging under every nook and cranny to see what corruption this Mayor has brought upon us. And then Joe would be shown the exit. Hasn’t happened. But he did get rid of the Faisal Qhan who actually did uncover corruption with Alderman.


  12. - Occam - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 12:42 pm:

    All they are going to accomplish is exacerbate and expand the “No-Go” neighborhoods for cops on the West and South side. Responding promptly to a 9-1-1 call in these neighborhoods will now exponentially increase the likelihood of more paperwork or potential discipline.


  13. - Try-4-Truth - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 12:54 pm:

    We give our police officers enormous powers, to detain us, take away our freedoms, and in some cases, physically assault us. We should hold them to the highest standard possible. If we, as citizens, do not demand police accountability, we will end up with a police force who believes they are above the law.


  14. - Cubs in '16 - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 12:57 pm:

    I see valid points on both sides of the argument. CPD has certainly earned the need for oversight and they really shouldn’t balk at this consent decree given their track record. The paperwork argument is a red herring. And pointing a gun at the chest of a three year old should never happen. I hope that officer gets the help he/she needs.

    On the other hand, the consent decree could cause officers to pause in the heat of the moment and get themselves killed. I don’t think the way every officer does their job should be scrutinized to the nth degree. They’re trained professionals. There should be some middle ground there somewhere. I’m not familiar enough with police protocol to hazard a guess as to what that middle ground could be.


  15. - JoanP - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 1:07 pm:

    =we will end up with a police force who believes they are above the law. =

    We already have one. And have had for a long time. Am I the only one old enough to remember the Summerdale Scandal? Not to mention Jon Burge, Ronald Watts, and a host of others.


  16. - Chris Widger - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 1:08 pm:

    ==Chicago taxpayers shelled out an astounding $936 million for settlements, judgments and legal expenses in police misconduct cases.==

    This figure is usually bandied about to attack the police, but the police aren’t the one reviewing the facts, negotiating the deals, and signing the settlement. Our City Council and Mayor take the lead here, and we should be asking questions about whether these are the best deals, whether there would be success going to trial more, and whether the cost of public embarrassment is worth settling more. Certainly, in an election year, the Mayor will favor settlements. We should also be asking what the optimal level of settlements is, given that people will not be perfect and juries are fickle. If police are taught to exercise better judgment, and that results in $100MM less in settlements but two more dead cops a year, was that worth it?


  17. - Chris Widger - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 1:10 pm:

    I am always a bit surprised that those who hate public-sector unions don’t realize that one really good way to drum up liberal support for them is to argue–constantly, skyhook in reverse, etc–that the reason it is so hard to discipline and fire police is because of the public-sector union. If you want to reform the CPD, they could (disingenuously) argue, it starts with breaking the union.


  18. - Henry Francis - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 1:14 pm:

    Colin - wasn’t trying to create any sort of equivalency between $936 million over 7 years (thanks) because of tragic mistakes made in the heat of the moment and running up more than that in late fees in just 1 year because 1 person thought his desired policy changes were more important and deliberately chose the $1 billion cost.

    I am outraged at both.

    But there is no equivalency imo.


  19. - Original Rambler - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 1:15 pm:

    How Rahm handles police negotiations is the biggest factor for me in getting my vote. The new FOP president is way out of line with some of his public comments which I hope are just posturing. I’d love Rahm to come up with a proposal to tie some police benefit to these misconduct lawsuits.


  20. - Deadbeat Conservative + - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 1:20 pm:

    =that the reason it is so hard to discipline and fire police is because of the public-sector union=

    Because it’s a myth. Union contracts provide for a due process for discplining and dishcharging employees. The reason that efforts to discipline fall short is that management fails to follow agreed-upon due process. If management would take the time to follow the process, the problem would be addressed.
    The real problem is that there is no accountability in management.


  21. - chuddery - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 1:32 pm:

    == If police are taught to exercise better judgment, and that results in $100MM less in settlements but two more dead cops a year, was that worth it?==

    This argument only works if exercising better judgment causes two additional deaths. Not sure there’s any evidence that that is the case.

    There is evidence that exercising better judgment would reduce the number of constitutional violations that are the heart of these settlements. I’d be in favor of that.


  22. - BucknIrish - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 1:32 pm:

    FOP are like the NRA, any new regulation is described as the end of safety in America. accept some reform and your other protections will be taken care of. Keep fighting it, and you will stay under the microscope.

    ==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.==

    How do you not realize that you need some reform?


  23. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 1:37 pm:

    –On the other hand, the consent decree could cause officers to pause in the heat of the moment and get themselves killed.–

    Why? To avoid “paperwork?” How do you land there?

    –If police are taught to exercise better judgment, and that results in $100MM less in settlements but two more dead cops a year, was that worth it?–

    And a Strawman pulled straight out of the tukkus….


  24. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 1:43 pm:

    For those concerned about “excessive paperwork,” have you ever received a speeding ticket or a written warning?

    That’s some paperwork. Takes some time.

    I’ve been given a written warning — not even a ticket — for speeding. The copper sat in the prowler for ten minutes writing it up.

    You’re telling me a cop is going to risk his life and not pull his gun because of paperwork? That’s insane.


  25. - Colin O'Scopy - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 1:45 pm:

    @Henry Francis

    Fair play. We are of like minds. Thanks.


  26. - Skeptic - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 1:50 pm:

    “On the other hand, the consent decree could cause officers to pause in the heat of the moment and get themselves killed” If it’s a life-threatening situation and they’re thinking about paperwork, hen they aren’t properly trained.

    Which brings up another reason why this would be beneficial, as training material for other cops. You can’t say what he/she did right or did wrong if you don’t know what he/she did.


  27. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 2:05 pm:

    Wow, I always thought cops were tough guys with hearts of gold. Where on earth did the Chicago police find such snowflakes for the executive board of FOP Lodge 7?

    “a presidential administration with a clear antipathy to law enforcement”
    Not true. Based on what?
    “media is also deeply allied to…anti police movement.”
    Yeesh.
    What “antipolice movement”?
    Do they look under the bed each night for monsters?


  28. - PJ - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 2:09 pm:

    == If police are taught to exercise better judgment, and that results in $100MM less in settlements but two more dead cops a year, was that worth it?==

    These settlements are usually for *murdering people*. I have zero sympathy for the argument that somehow, some way, this is going to endanger police. Paul Bauer was the first CPD officer killed in something like a decade. How many civilians has CPD killed in that same time period? Which is the group really in more danger?


  29. - Cubs in '16 - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 2:15 pm:

    ===–On the other hand, the consent decree could cause officers to pause in the heat of the moment and get themselves killed.–

    Why? To avoid “paperwork?” How do you land there?===

    To avoid litigation, not paperwork. I said the paperwork argument by the FOP is a red herring. My point is when good cops are always looking over their shoulder it could lead to a momentary pause at the wrong time.


  30. - lakeside - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 2:26 pm:

    “…momentary pause at the wrong time.”‘

    We’ve got a lot of dead kids, grieving families and nearly a billion dollars less in our coffers that suggest there aren’t enough officers taking a momentary pause at the right time. If they need the threat of paperwork to make that holster/trigger finger a little less itchy, good. Anyone should think twice before drawing a weapon, even officers.


  31. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 2:29 pm:

    ==one really good way to drum up liberal support==
    Take away collective bargaining rights and the right to challenge disipline for one of hardest jobs (for mediocre wages)out there?
    Chris, dear, you don’t know much about how liberals think. Maybe get some liberal friends?


  32. - Chris Widger - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 2:31 pm:

    ==Chris, dear, you don’t know much about how liberals think. Maybe get some liberal friends?==

    There will be hundreds or thousands of people walking up Clark Street in a week to protest the City’s negligence in managing poor communities. They will want to hear answers about how to fundamentally change the CPD. Breaking the union is the fastest way to do it, and as both recent and not-recent history have shown, people don’t tend to appreciate nuance.


  33. - Cubs in '16 - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 2:35 pm:

    @lakeside

    Ask anyone who will potentially have to use a gun during the course of their day and they will tell you any moment’s hesitation can easily get them killed. Then we’ve got a lot of dead officers, grieving families and less money in our coffers because of the prisoners serving life sentences for killing a cop. Again, the threat of paperwork is not my argument.


  34. - Lester Holt’s Mustache - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 2:48 pm:

    ==If you want to reform the CPD, they could (disingenuously) argue, it starts with breaking the union.==

    I’d argue for that, and not disingenuously either. That $936 million number (for Chicago alone) is a prime example of why cops in the country have to be brought under a more plausible system of control, and police unions today only exist to make proper oversight and discipline of officers impossible. They’re partially (mostly?) responsible for wasting millions in taxpayer money because a few of their members refuse to do their job the right way, and the rest refuse to break the blue wall of silence. And that’s only in the cases where there’s enough proof to justify a settlement or judgement - I can’t imagine how many more tax dollars we’d be talking about for cases where improper behavior is alleged, but no proof is offered.

    ==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.==

    Reminds me of the story a couple weeks ago where the cop pulled his gun on a group of 10 year olds. You’ve got a telescopic baton, pepper spray, usually a taser, and dozens of hours of self defense/threat neutralization training. Stop pointing your guns at children


  35. - Original Rambler - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 3:10 pm:

    Mediocre wages? Maybe in Ford Heights. Not the CPD.


  36. - 17% Solution - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 3:28 pm:

    In every other profession, the people who practice hate bad actors. Doctors don’t like quacks, lawyers don’t like ambulance chasers, trades people don’t like other trades people who make code violations, etc. Bad actors ruin a profession’s reputation, cause malpractice insurance to go up, and in general make work harder.
    So what is the police’s problem? It can’t serve an officer well to work alongside a whack job that would pull a gun on a 3 year old toddler. I feel sorry for the whack job’s partner. Police should embrace the consent decree.


  37. - Smitty Irving - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 3:28 pm:

    “very, very easy technologically-based fixes” … Have to throw a flag on the play. Oracle / SAP / Microsoft don’t have a commercial off the shelf product labeled “US DOJ Consent Decree Software V3.0″ … this will require custom developed software, and DOD provides a sobering example of how well custom developed software in the field doesn’t work.


  38. - njt16 - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 3:45 pm:

    ==Ask anyone who will potentially have to use a gun during the course of their day and they will tell you any moment’s hesitation can easily get them killed. Then we’ve got a lot of dead officers, grieving families and less money in our coffers because of the prisoners serving life sentences for killing a cop. Again, the threat of paperwork is not my argument. ==

    576 citizens killed by police in 2018
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2018/national/police-shootings-2018/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.64e2eb0edb14

    35 officers killed by gunfire in 2018
    https://www.odmp.org/search/year/2018

    Cops don’t need to be looking over their shoulder but they should be employing different methodologies to diffuse situations.


  39. - Last Bull Moose - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 4:17 pm:

    The dollar amounts of the settlements are ridiculous. Having an officer point a gun at someone is 5 times more than the military pays for a combat death.

    The use of force does need to be better managed. Maybe two man patrols are the wrong method in high risk areas. I have seen the French police operate in teams of 6, four on foot and two in a van.


  40. - NoGifts - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 4:29 pm:

    1) Electronic reporting. They use electronic crash reporting, they should use electronic reporting for other purposes. 2) They already have to fill out a form every time they encounter someone? So 71 checkboxes instead of 70 doesn’t seem thot onerous. “pointed gun at civilian yes/no”


  41. - wordslinger - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 4:35 pm:

    –To avoid litigation, not paperwork. I said the paperwork argument by the FOP is a red herring.–

    Says you, the FOP says paperwork. You think they’re debating in bad faith, apparently.

    Why would they care about “litigation.” Cops aren’t personally liable for damage awards.

    What supports your “litigation” theory?


  42. - Da Big Bad Wolf - Thursday, Jul 26, 18 @ 5:31 pm:

    ==very, very easy technologically-based fixes==
    I was curious too and Ferguson didn’t elaborate. But providing technology for police departments worldwide is a huge industry and I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a consent decree software out there.


  43. - the man - Friday, Jul 27, 18 @ 7:14 am:

    Imagine if all the payouts were taken out police pension fund and pension payments? You know how fast the crap would end. There is no financial incentive for the police to change, we need to give them some.


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