The Chicago Police Department is asking the public to weigh in on policies governing the way officers respond to hate crimes, interact with different religious communities and deal with kids, among other areas.
The department is also asking for feedback on a potential policy prohibiting sexual misconduct by officers, a policy that still does not exist despite being mandated in the court-ordered police reform plan known as a consent decree.
The department announced the launch of seven separate community surveys on Thursday, one for each policy, and one survey specifically intended to be filled out by children younger than 18, with parental permission.
“In order for our policies to be truly effective, they must reflect the community’s input, feedback and shared experiences,” said Deputy Superintendent Barbara West in a press release announcing the surveys.
The seven surveys are:
All policies at issue are a major focus of the consent decree. The consent decree, and the monitor overseeing the city’s reform progress, both call for the department to do a better job involving residents in policy decisions.
In the first year of the consent decree, the city missed more than 70% of its police reform deadlines. Independent monitor Maggie Hickey, who is tasked with assessing the city’s efforts, wrote in her most recent report that the city and CPD were failing to meaningfully engage the public until too late in the policy process.
“Allowing community input at the later stages of the policy development process effectively disenfranchises Chicago community members and prevents them from providing input and comments in the formative stages of the policy development process,” the report reads.
The department has also drawn criticism from a coalition of civil rights groups and Chicago activists for not doing a better job working with the public, among other complaints.
Those groups have also raised concerns that CPD is not making meaningful progress, despite the consent decree. In particular they’ve focused on how CPD interacts with people of color, people with disabilities and young people — all of which are the subject of the newly released surveys.
“I think the failures to set policy to protect young people, to protect women, to people who are nonbinary, trans folks … reflects the culture of the Chicago Police Department,” said attorney Sheila Bedi in a June interview. “It’s also important to lift up that there are a number of provisions in the consent decree that require real, meaningful, authentic community participation in the development of these policies.”
Particularly bizarre is CPD’s failure, more than a year into the court-enforced reform plan, to put in place a policy prohibiting sexual misconduct by its members.
“The Chicago Police Department knew it was one of the few departments in the country that was operating without a sexual misconduct policy for years, and it failed to take action,” Bedi said.
In her most recent monitoring report, filed in federal court in June, Hickey wrote that CPD had submitted a draft of a sexual misconduct policy at the last minute, but that the department had not meaningfully engaged Chicago residents or advocacy groups, even after those groups had reached out to CPD directly.
In the new survey, the department is asking respondents whether they would feel comfortable reporting to the Chicago Police Department an act of sexual misconduct by a Chicago police officer. It also asks the survey-taker whether they themselves have been a victim of sexual violence by an officer.
The surveys are anonymous. They must be completed by Oct. 15, 2020.