By MICHAEL TARM, AP Legal Affairs Writer
CHICAGO (AP) — Chicago’s mayor and Illinois’ attorney general unveiled an updated plan Thursday to reform the city’s police, saying it will ensure permanent, far-reaching changes within a 12,000-officer department that has a long history of committing serious civil rights abuses.
The more than 200-page document was submitted to U.S. District Judge Robert Dow for his consideration. If he approves it, an independent court monitor would ensure that the city meets the plan’s benchmarks, which are laid out over several years.
The most notable change since city and state officials hammered out an initial draft in July is a new provision that would require officers to file paperwork whenever they point a gun at someone, even if they don’t fire.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel told reporters that the city is at “an historic inflection point” on police reforms. He noted there have been seven attempts in the past 100 years to overhaul how the department operates.
“I am confident this agreement will stand the test of time,” he said.
The head of Chicago’s police union issued a written statement hours later, saying such a court-supervised reform plan would be unnecessary and counterproductive. It “will have a devastating effect upon policing in Chicago,” said Kevin Graham, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Chicago Lodge 7.
He spoke at a joint news conference with Attorney General Lisa Madigan and Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson — the three posing for pictures as Madigan held up what would be a court-enforced plan, called a consent decree.
The union head has strongly opposed any requirement that officers document all instances in which they point their weapons, saying it could lead officers to hesitate in situations when they are actually in danger.
Johnson said Thursday he had had similar reservations. But he said the reform plan as written now allays those concerns.
The release of the reworked plan came during jury selection in the murder trial of a white Chicago police officer, Jason Van Dyke, who shot a black teenager, Laquan McDonald, 16 times in 2014. Video of the shooting led to the firing of Johnson’s predecessor and to a damning Justice Department report in the last days of Barack Obama’s presidency that found racial bias and excessive use of force by police.
Madigan, with Emanuel’s approval, sued Chicago last year to make sure police reforms included court oversight after President Donald Trump’s Justice Department indicated it didn’t foresee a court role.
Judge Dow will invite additional community feedback before a decision on giving the plan his stamp of approval. It will include two days of hearings starting Oct. 24 for public comment.
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