The city of Chicago and the United States Department of Justice announced an agreement in principle Friday to enter into a “memorandum of agreement” which would call for a federal monitor to oversee reforms in the Chicago Police Department, according to a city of Chicago source close to those negotiations.
A draft of that agreement has been submitted to Justice officials in Washington for final approval.
The agreement follows publication of a scathing report on the Chicago Police Department issued in January. That report, which followed a more than year-long federal investigation, suggested some CPD officers were prone to excessive force, a product of poor training and accountability, resulting in a “broken trust” between officers and the communities they serve.
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“It has been broken by systems that have allowed CPD officers who violate the law to escape accountability,” the report stated. “This breach in trust has in turn eroded CPD’s ability to effectively prevent crime.”
At the time, it was widely expected that the Justice Department would pursue a consent decree with Chicago, which would call for reforms to be enforced by a federal judge.
With the change of administrations however, came a new focus at Justice. Newly appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions made clear he was not a fan of such agreements, suggesting they weakened the efforts of good officers.
An administration official familiar with the agreement noted that Chicago Police have not waited for federal intervention, and that many reforms suggested in the Justice Report on CPD were already underway.
“Our hope is that we can execute (the agreement) soon,” that official said, “and begin the process of selecting a monitor.”
Similar agreements have been put in place in other cities, including Washington D.C. and Cincinnati.
A federal monitor would have the power to oversee agreed-upon reforms, taking any issues directly to the Justice Department if Chicago Police are deemed to have not complied with any agreement.