What is a consent decree?
A consent decree is a court order that establishes an enforceable plan for sustainable reform. Typically, consent decrees are detailed documents that include specific requirements and deadlines for action. Police consent decrees in other cities around the country have required an independent monitor. The independent monitor needs to be approved by a federal judge. Once the federal judge approves the independent monitor, that monitor is charged with measuring the police department’s progress by making sure the police department implements the changes required in the consent decree. The independent monitor reports to the federal judge. The federal judge oversees the police department’s compliance with the consent decree and holds the department and the City accountable for satisfying the consent decree’s requirements.
Why is a consent decree needed?
A consent decree—with an independent monitor to evaluate the progress of reform and with oversight by a federal judge—has proven to be the most effective and transparent way to put in place new practices that protect city residents and ensure constitutional policing in cities around the country. Other police departments across the country have reformed their practices under consent decrees, often with considerable success.
What issues will the consent decree address?
The decree will likely include areas outlined in the Department of Justice report and the Police Accountability Task Force report. Those areas include new requirements for police officer training and use of force, new policies to address officer wellness and CPD promotion practices, and new requirements and policies for ensuring officers are held accountable for misconduct. The consent decree will also require that the City provide resources needed for police officers to do their jobs properly and safely.
What about reforms that the city has announced, like the creation of the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA), a new Use of Force policy, and a new Body-Worn Camera policy?
The City of Chicago has implemented reforms since the release of the Department of Justice report and the Police Accountability Task Force report. The City’s actions are described at: https://home.chicagopolice.org/reform/.
As part of the legal process of drafting a consent decree, the Attorney General’s Office, working with national experts on lawful policing, will review the recent actions taken by the City and CPD.
What does the consent decree process entail?
The Attorney General’s Office, the City of Chicago, and the Chicago Police Department are currently negotiating the specific terms and requirements of the decree. The Attorney General’s Office is working with national policing experts who have assisted with reforms and implementation of police department consent decrees in other cities. Additionally, the Attorney General’s Office is reviewing City of Chicago and CPD policies, conducting site visits, and interviewing City and CPD personnel. The Attorney General’s Office has completed a series of community meetings and is also seeking the input of Chicago residents through outreach and this feedback form.
Once the consent decree is drafted, it will be posted for public comment on this website. We anticipate posting a draft for public comment in summer 2018.
After carefully considering comments from the public and making revisions as appropriate, the Attorney General’s Office and the City of Chicago will present the consent decree to the federal judge who is overseeing the Attorney General’s lawsuit. The judge may hold hearings in court and will ultimately decide whether to approve the consent decree.
How long will it take to put a consent decree in place?
It’s expected to take as long as a year. The Attorney General’s Office anticipates posting a draft consent decree for public comment in summer 2018. After receiving and reviewing the public comments and making appropriate changes, the Attorney General’s Office and the City will file the consent decree with the court for approval by the judge.
I’ve already shared my experiences and recommendations for improving the Chicago Police Department - why do you need additional community input?
The residents of Chicago have had opportunities to comment about their experiences and concerns with CPD. Federal and city agencies have produced lengthy reports summarizing your input and identifying recommendations. The Attorney General’s effort to obtain a consent decree was prompted by the findings of the Department of Justice and the Police Accountability Task Force—and the community input that led to those findings.
In addition to carefully considering the community input provided to the Department of Justice and the Task Force, the Attorney General’s Office is committed to ensuring that community members have additional opportunities to provide meaningful input that can be reflected in the terms of the consent decree. You can provide input on the consent decree through this feedback form and/or by offering comments on the draft consent decree.
What will happen to my input?
All comments will be reviewed and considered by the Attorney General’s Office and the City during the process of negotiating and drafting the consent decree.
What is the role of the independent monitor?
The consent decree will set out a detailed plan for reforms that must be implemented by the City of Chicago and CPD. The federal court ultimately determines whether the City and CPD are following the requirements of the consent decree. To assist the federal judge in evaluating the City’s and CPD’s actions and progress in implementing reforms, the consent decree will require the selection and appointment by the court of an independent monitor.
The independent monitor—who generally heads a team of qualified personnel from different backgrounds, including law, civil rights and policing—will evaluate and issue public reports on whether the City and CPD are meeting the requirements of the consent decree. The independent monitor’s assessment of CPD’s progress will be informed, in part, by outreach with the community. For additional background on the role of an independent monitor, see pages 21-23 of this Department of Justice’s police reform report.
How and when will the independent monitor be selected?
The independent monitor selection process will involve seeking applications from policing experts from around the country. The applications will likely be submitted by teams of experts, which may include current or former law enforcement officers, academics, policy analysts, lawyers and community outreach specialists. The federal judge will have final approval of any team of individuals put in place to independently monitor the implementation of the consent decree.
How long will the consent decree last once it is approved?
By law, the consent decree must stay in place until a federal judge determines that the police department has implemented the reforms mandated in the consent decree. The length of time this takes depends on how rapidly and how well the City and police department work to implement the reforms.