If you’ve wanted to weigh in on police reform in Chicago, you have what could be your last chance this week. Judge Robert Dow, who will oversee the reform plan — assuming one is approved — is inviting Chicagoans to the federal courthouse on Wednesday and Thursday to share their thoughts.
Here’s how to give your two cents
Go to the Dirksen United States Courthouse, 219 S. Dearborn Street, on Wednesday morning, go up to the 25th floor, and sign up to speak. Make sure you bring a valid ID.
The court clerk will be signing people up between 7 and 8:30 a.m.. Then, they’ll randomly draw from those names to determine the speaking order.
What the judge might decide
Judge Dow can decide to accept the police reform plan as negotiated between the city of Chicago and the Illinois attorney general, he can force the two sides to modify their reform plan, or he can reject it outright.
The sides of debate
The Chicago police union and the federal government under President Donald Trump have vehemently opposed the proposed consent decree. They warn that it will hinder police officers and lead to more violent crime.
On the other hand, there are a lot of community groups that say a consent decree is essential to reform the Chicago Police Department, but they think the current proposals don’t go far enough. They’re pushing for support for survivors of police violence, tougher consequences for officers who commit domestic violence, and required training for officers on recognizing and appropriately dealing with people with disabilities among other things.
What others have said
More than 400 written comments on the proposed reform plan have already been submitted to the federal judge. Many of them are signed form letters that support the consent decree, but some of the comments are written by individuals. In one, a police psychologist offered detailed tips on how to improve the sergeant’s exam. In another, a handwritten letter said simply that the police need to change. An attorney, writing in support of the consent decree, calls the Chicago Police Department an occupying force.
Patrick Smith is a WBEZ criminal justice reporter. Follow him @pksmid.