Police Consent Decree: toeing the line, or dragging their feet?

Lawyers from the city of Chicago and the American Civil Liberties Union clashed recently on the pace of police reform.

A federal judged presided over a June 2, 2023 meeting to update the public on Chicago Police Department (CPD) reforms. The reforms were mandated by a 2019 settlement between the city of Chicago and the Illinois Attorney General.

That settlement birthed the Consent Decree, which requires CPD to change its practices and policies "in the areas of community policing; impartial policing; crisis intervention; use of force; recruitment, hiring, and promotions; training; supervision; officer wellness and support; accountability and transparency; and data collection, analysis, and management."

In separate morning and afternoon sessions on June 2, Judge Rebecca Pallmeyer heard testimony about Consent Decree progress—from city of Chicago staff, advocates of police reform, and members of the public.

Although the sessions were conducted on-line, the U.S. court for the Northeastern District of Illinois has made no audio or video recordings available to the public. The court does, however, make a written transcript available—to those who request it. (To learn how to hear the entire, two-hour morning session of the meeting, see below.)

This Inside Chicago Government audio highlights two speakers at the June 2 meeting.

The first speaker was Jennifer Bagby, a city of Chicago deputy corporation counsel. Bagby defended the pace of CPD's reform measures. The Consent Decree's mandates, she said, require extensive review, comment, and approval efforts.

"You can do things quickly or correctly, but rarely both," Bagby said.

That position was challenged by Alexandra Block, a senior supervising attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois. Though "[t]he city and CPD have had four years to begin making changes," Block said, "the community is not experiencing changes on the ground."

"CPD has no apparent strategy to move to full and meaningful Consent Decree compliance," Block said.

Length 23.2 minutes.

Music: "I'll See You in C-U-B-A" by Jack Kaufman

Standard audio:

Links to audio recordings of the June 2, 2023 meeting's morning session:

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