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Illinois AG sues for court oversight of Chicago police reform

By Danielle Haynes
Illinois AG sues for court oversight of Chicago police reform
Chicago police officers arrest a protester outside of City Hall after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel addressed the City Council about the recent troubles in the Chicago Police Department on December 9, 2015. On Tuesday, the Illinois attorney general sued to have court oversight over police reform in the city. File Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 29 (UPI) -- The Illinois attorney general filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to have a federal court oversee police in reform in Chicago, a move Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he welcomed.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan's suit seeks to push forward stalled negotiations over changes to the Chicago Police Department in the wake of a Obama-era Justice Department report that found evidence of civil rights violations and use of excessive force.

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Responding to the report in January, Emanuel agreed in principle to enter into a court-enforced consent decree with the Justice Department to enact widespread reforms meant to restore the public's trust in the Chicago Police Department.

In April, though, Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued a memo telling U.S. attorneys that policing state and local law enforcement agencies is not the responsibility of the federal government. It called on the Justice Department to review all consent decrees across the country.

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Madigan issued a statement saying the only way to repair the broken trust between the people of Chicago and the police force is through an enforceable consent decree.

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"The city is facing serious problems that have endangered the lives of city residents as well as the police officers who put their lives on the line every day to protect our communities. Together, we will work to provide the people of Chicago with a city and a police department that respects their rights, protects their safety, and provides support and resources to the brave officers who take on these responsibilities," she said.

After Sessions' pushback against consent decrees, Emanuel initially tried to negotiate reform without court oversight. On Tuesday, though, he said he backed Madigan's push for court involvement.

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"The reforms we have made in recent years, and those that lie ahead, will help us ensure Chicago has the most professional, proactive police department possible," Emanuel said. "I am proud that Illinois' attorney general is standing up -- for our city and our officers -- where the Trump Justice Department fell flat."

The Justice Department's 13-month investigation of the Chicago Police Department was prompted by the 2014 fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times by officer Jason Van Dyke.

The McDonald shooting gained national attention after the release of a dashcam video contradicted police accounts of the shooting. Van Dyke and other officers on the scene said McDonald "lunged" at them with a knife, but the video showed he was walking away when Van Dyke opened fire.

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