Chicago is making real progress on police reform
At all levels of government — including within the mayor’s office and the Chicago Police Department — urgent conversations are taking place about police reform and oversight.
Reform supporters and members of the press are asking the right questions about the progress of reform, but the resulting discourse is often littered with partial truths and sweeping, ambiguous statements.
Calls to action fall flat when they fail to acknowledge the complexities of police reform, demonstrate a thorough understanding of Chicago’s consent decree, or show an awareness of the actions the mayor is taking Lori Lightfoot to improve security.
As the new Deputy Mayor for Public Safety, I feel compelled to address the state of police reform in our city and speak directly to residents who are burdened not only by violence, but also by the lasting impact of systemic racism within our criminal justice systems. To these people: know that we share your urgency to reform and that we are making substantial and meaningful changes to keep Chicago safe and make everyone’s neighborhood safer.
And to all Chicagoans: let’s make sure we’re on the same page about what these changes look like. Truly lasting reform happens when we build bridges and make connections.
First, we must remember that Chicago is experiencing a historic reduction in violent crime on the South and West Sides, as well as an unprecedented financial investment in those same communities, which for decades have been blighted by violence and lack economic opportunities. The reduction in crime has been greatly aided by the tireless efforts of our Chicago police officers. I want to emphasize that I appreciate them and recognize the challenges of policing in this post-pandemic era.
It is also crucial to understand the complexities of police reform. When disinformation spreads, we go from cooperation to conflict, from hope to pessimism, from progress to stagnation.
Here’s the truth: To implement truly lasting reform, the Chicago Police Department is committed to providing the best training possible, not just a quick fix. When subject matter experts and civilians deliver meaningful training and uniformed officers go out into the field to serve and protect communities, we come one step closer to truly lasting change.
Much of these reforms are guided by the federal consent decree, which contains the most requirements of any major city that has undertaken such an effort since the late 1990s.
In Independent Tracking Report 4, Chicago hit a milestone: after two years, it had achieved more than any other US city under a consent decree.
To provide some context: on average, cities that have entered into a consent decree achieve full compliance within 10 years. While it is true that the CPD has “fully complied with less than 5% of the requirements of the decree”, the department is overall compliant at almost 75%. Previously, in IMR-3, the CPD had more than tripled its overall compliance with the consent decree.
DPC also builds community trust in other ways. For example, and as explained in RMI-4, use of force policies have been revised several times because the DPC wanted to incorporate feedback from extensive dialogue with community members. Mandatory annual training hours were increased from 0 to 40 hours, and CPD’s policy on interactions with transgender, intersex and gender non-conforming people was also revised based on extensive community dialogue.
Other accomplishments can be found in the report, but the point is clear: missing consent decree timelines should not be confused with non-compliance. Deadlines are often arbitrary milestones that reflect the desirability of reform, rather than the reform itself. Extending the timeline of our consent decree efforts ensures that we provide our officers with all the resources they need to make a meaningful difference in the lives of our residents.
Finally, I want to point out that last summer Chicago passed the most progressive and comprehensive civilian oversight legislative package in the country. This package created the citywide Community Commission for Public Safety and Accountability (CCPSA), which has the power to advance systemic reform, as well as district councils which will be elected in each police district. and work to improve policing and public safety.
Right now, we have a unique opportunity to make meaningful and lasting change to keep our communities safe. As a woman whose family has been in Chicago since the early 1900s and as someone who has experienced her own personal traumas, I am truly invested in the hearts and souls of all Chicagoans.
As a trained lawyer, I am uniquely determined to seize this critical moment, not just emotionally, but with analytical diligence – guided by facts, lucid about the systemic issues facing our city, and in partnership with residents. . who I am so proud to work for.
Elena Gottreich is the city’s deputy mayor for public safety and was previously deputy director of prosecution strategies for the Chicago Police Department.
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