Chicago, IL – Activists groups are asking a judge to scale back Chicago police officers’ power to arrest, even when the suspect assault them.
They say that the city’s proposed consent decree doesn’t go far enough.
“The proposed consent decree released by the city and the office of the attorney general falls far short of what’s required in order to end the reign of lawlessness and brutality that we’ve endured under this police department,” Jonathan Projansky, of Black Lives Matter Chicago, told the Chicago Tribune.
Members of Black Lives Matter, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and a number of attorneys gathered in front of the mayor’s office in city hall on Tuesday to protest the draft agreement.
The activist groups want the Chicago Police Department to implement a policy that tells officers to use the “least intrusive response appropriate under the circumstances as reasonably understood by the officer at the time” in dealing with minor offenses, the Chicago Tribune reported.
In their proposed version of the agreement, officers would be encouraged to give warnings or divert people to “mediation or public health program(s)” rather making arrests and writing them tickets.
And they want officers to have to seek approval from a supervisor before making an arrest for a host of crimes from gambling and prostitution to obstructing, resisting, or assaulting a police officer, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The ACLU and Black Lives Matter want officers to have to write a report every time they point a Taser or a gun at a person, or any time they even draw their weapons.
This particular issue has been a sticking point during negotiations as the state attorney general’s office demanded all those incidents be reported and Chicago city officials pushed back, citing the amount of time required that would keep officer away from street patrol.
Activists groups have also demanded that the Chicago PD enact a foot pursuit policy. The draft of the consent decree would allow the creation of that policy but does not require it, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The proposed agreement included changes to the protocol for handling people dealing with mental health issues, but the activist groups weren’t satisfied with what the draft included.
They want certified crisis intervention officers to respond to every call involving a mentally unstable suspect, and they also wanted the consent decree to create a “behavior health unit” that would allow citizens to intervene in incidents and would divert mentally ill suspects from the criminal justice system, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The creation of the proposed consent decree, which is still a work in progress, was sparked by the outrage that followed the release of video of Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting teenager Laquan McDonald.
The video sparked protests and a U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) report of Chicago PD claimed officers had engaged in “brutality and misconduct” without fear of consequences, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Officer Van Dyke is scheduled for trial on murder charges in September.
Initially, the Chicago mayor supported the idea of the consent decree, but then pulled back after the Trump administration showed no interest in federal micromanagement of local police agencies, according to the Chicago Tribune.
However, Emanuel agreed to negotiate after the Illinois attorney general sued to force the issue even if the DoJ wasn’t going to follow through.
The Chicago Fraternal Order of Police has called the consent decree a “war on the police” and argued that Madigan’s lawsuit wasn’t legal, the Chicago Tribune reported. They have sought relief in the matter but a judge has not yet ruled on their request.