Chicago Police Department Needs Federal Judicial Oversight

Chicago Police Department Needs Federal Judicial Oversight



In January 2017, Mayor Rahm Emanuel entered into a consent decree with the Obama Administration. This is an “agreement that gives a judge and a court-appointed monitor the power to enforce reforms of the Police Dept.” Now, Mayor Emanuel is negotiating an out-of-court agreement with the Justice Department under Donald Trump, which has signaled a retreat from Federal oversight.

Toni Preckwinkle the Cook County Council Board president is shocked by the mayor’s actions. She stated, “A consent decree is necessary to make a real change happen. I do not have any confidence that it can be done without outside oversight. I believe we need supervision.”

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan stated: “After a meeting with Mayor Emanuel it’s ludicrous for the City Hall to negotiate with the Trump Justice Dept. that fundamentally does not agree with the need for constitutional policy.”

Chicago has been highlighted in the news for many violent crimes. There has also been police corruption and lack of accountability. The Chicago Police Department needs this federal oversight.

Two Big Cases That Support the Need of Oversight

Examples go back to the case of Devonte James v Officer Matthew Bouch. James was punched in the face by the officer.

The Chicago resident was sitting on the porch of his grandmother’s residence along with a relative. He was approached by the officer, along with several others, handcuffed and questioned before being punched in the face by Officer Bouch. James suffered a fractured jaw, which needed three surgeries to repair, including a steel plate and screws.

After the incident, he was arrested and not transported to the hospital for his injuries. James was charged with resisting arrest, but later charges were dropped due to lack of cooperation by the officers. James sued the Chicago Police Department and was awarded $300,000 and the officer was charged with using excessive force.

Another story of injustice at the hands of the police is the Laquan McDonald murder case, which also sparked headlines about police corruption. Officer Jason Van Dyke is facing murder charges and 3 other officers are facing charges of obstruction of justice, official misconduct and conspiring to cover-up a murder.

A video showed Van Dyke shooting McDonald 16 times as he walked away from officers. The young man had a knife in his hand. The other officers lied to exaggerate the threat they believed McDonald posed.

Between 2010-2014, the Chicago Police Department reportedly shot 240 individuals, killing 72. Further reason to believe that federal intervention is necessary. During the same period, $26.7 million was paid out in response to the deaths taken by police.

Based on those reports it appears that Chicago is in need federal oversight, without it things may get worse, especially since politicians can not even agree to meet with one another. Madigan and Preckwinkle have required that Emanuel partner with community organizations to seek a consent decree and getting Chicago federal help. Emanuel has yet to comply.

The mayor insists that the city is on its way to change with the use of new police issued body cameras, tasers, and new police training. However, even if the city does commit to federal oversight, it is unknown if the Trump administration will follow through. The reason this argument might be moot is that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said he is against the consent decree.

Written by Nicole Thompson
Edited by Cathy Milne


Chicago Tribune: Jury awards $300,000 to Man, Cop Punched While Handcuffed
Chicago Tribune: Chicago Agrees to pay 9.5 Million to man tased by Officer
Chicago Tribune: Emanuel backs off from commitment to court oversight of Chicago police reform
Chicago Sun-Times: Rahm Emanuel needs to let judge oversee Chicago Police Department

Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Daniel X O’Neil’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License