Movement in the Fight for a Consent Decree

CRS's Police Accountability work can be visualized as a three-legged stool. Our coalition work in the areas of community-based police oversight (Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability) and police contracts reform (Coalition for Police Contracts Accountability) stand as the first two legs.

On October 4, 2017, CRS, alongside American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois, One Northside, Communities United, Equip for Equality, and Next Steps, filed a federal lawsuit centered on reforming the Chicago Police Department (CPD). [1] This reform leans heavily upon the recommendations created by the Department of Justice under the former Obama federal administration and calls for the creation of a court-enforced agreement or consent decree. Several recent developments have taken place in connection with the lawsuit, the third leg of our work, that we share in this post.

Simply stated, a consent decree is a set of promises. These promises, however, are court enforced and have legal consequences if violated. If the City does not follow through on its promises, the AG or a coalition of organizations, along with plaintiffs in our lawsuit, can ask the court to enforce the obligations. 

Recall that on August 29, 2017, the Illinois Attorney General (AG) Lisa Madigan filed a lawsuit against the City of Chicago, to establish a consent decree against the city of Chicago. On July 27, 2018, the AG and the City of Chicago (City) made public a draft consent decree to offer their view of how to reform CPD.  The public had a relatively short, 21-day period to provide comments, ending Friday, August 17.  During that review period, leaders and staff from CRS met with our lawsuit coalition partners on several occasions to review the 224-page document and produce a series of recommendations for the City and AG. In short, this movement signifies that a long-term, court-enforced consent decree is becoming a reality.

The next phase of this process involves the City reviewing the public feedback from all individuals and organizations who offered input and creating a second draft of the consent decree, expected on September 1. At that time we will have another period of review. Also significant is ensuring the independent public monitor, the individuals or team responsible for keeping CPD accountable to the consent decree. The City has currently made public an RFP for the position that closes on September 4. 

For more information regarding our 12 recommendations for the Chicago CPD consent decree, click here. [2]