What Will Trump Mean For Chicago Policing Reform?
Chicago experts are split over what a Donald Trump presidency will mean for police reform in Chicago.
“One thing I think is important to keep in mind is, the changes that need to be made within the police department, fundamentally, need to be made by people here on the ground in Chicago,” Lightfoot said.
Former federal prosecutor Jeffrey Cramer disagrees.
“The Emanuel administration can try and put through certain things...but at the end of the day, it’s going to be hard to implement the necessary changes around police reform without a federal judge, a federal consent decree and a monitor...being implemented by the federal government,” Cramer said.
Cramer said the frontline investigators and prosecutors don’t change when the president does. But a new attorney general will mean a new philosophy and new division leaders.
He thinks it’s more than likely that the new administration won’t be supportive of the kind of changes investigators are looking at for the Chicago Police Department.
That’s why he expects Justice Department investigators to hurry so they can release findings and recommendations before Trump takes office.
“At that that point the new administration is going to have … a pretty scathing report, and it’s going to be dumped in their lap. And it’s going to be pretty hard to ignore that no matter who the attorney general is,” Cramer said.
Cramer says if the Justice Department attorneys aren’t able to finish their work before January, the Trump-appointed attorney general may be able to put the report on the shelf.
“If they don’t put that out until the new administration takes over, that investigation, those findings, those recommendations may never see the light of day.”
Lightfoot agrees there is a chance that new leadership could mean the investigation goes nowhere, but she does not believe the investigators will rush to finish.
“Their work isn’t done yet,” Lightfoot said. “There is a deference to the incoming administration, and no big policy pronouncements, no big decisions … are taken.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Chicago will not embrace the policing recommendations of the president elect. Trump has in the past said Chicago should bring back so-called stop-and-frisk policing. Emanuel says that won’t happen.
“I don’t believe that his policy recommendations are the solution to our economic strength or more importantly on the particular subject...safety,” Emanuel said.
Patrick Smith is a WBEZ producer and reporter. Follow him @pksmid.