Testimony at CPD Consent Decree Public Hearing

On November 29, 2022, federal court Judge Pallmeyer held a public hearing regarding the consent decree. Speakers from around Chicago provided powerful testimony regarding negative encounters they’ve had with CPD officers and expressed frustration with the pace of progress and the lack of meaningful community engagement in policy and training development. Shareese Pryor provided testimony on behalf of BPI, to impress upon the court that the consent decree “demands urgency, must meaningfully involve community, and requires transparency for legitimacy.”

November 29, 2022

Good afternoon, Judge Pallmeyer and Judge Dow. Thank you for the opportunity to speak today.

My name is Shareese Pryor. I come before you from a unique position, having previously worked on the consent decree and now as an advocate invested in its successful implementation.

I am the Director of the Criminal Legal System and Police Accountability program at a law and policy center in Chicago called BPI.

Our policing work focuses on enacting systemic changes to promote community safety, strengthen accountability and transparency, and reimagine the role that police should play in society.

Before BPI, I worked for the Illinois Attorney General’s Office as a member of the team that negotiated the consent decree and helped oversee its enforcement.

There are a few things I know for sure about the consent decree: this work demands urgency, must meaningfully involve community, and requires transparency for legitimacy.

Almost four years into implementation, serious questions remain as to the City and CPD’s commitment to these priorities.

I will offer an example.

After CPD released a draft foot pursuit policy for public comment in May 2021, BPI began working with a coalition of lawyers and Latinx non-profits to advocate for improvements to CPD’s foot pursuit policy.

This group’s work was galvanized by Adam Toledo and Anthony Alvarez, both of whom were fatally shot by CPD officers following foot pursuits in the Spring of 2021.

Our coalition provided draft comments in July and requested meetings with CPD, the IMT, and the OAG. Fortunately, they obliged and allowed us to share our concerns.

Following those meetings, we heard nothing.

CPD missed its September 3, 2021, deadline to adopt a policy.

For nearly 7 months, there was no update. CPD’s website reflected no status changes. There were no public court hearings concerning the Department’s failure to comply with the deadline.

In February 2022, CPD issued a revised draft.

Again, our coalition provided comments and requested and received separate meetings with the parties and the Independent Monitor.

In June 2022, over a year after the first draft was released and 5 years after DOJ’s recommendation, CPD finalized its foot pursuit policy.

While the final policy made considerable improvements that incorporated some of our feedback, it is unclear whether we would have had the level of engagement and influence we did without our persistence.

I understand the need for a thoughtful, considered approach. But the snail’s pace at which CPD is developing policies, particularly ones that require community input, is inexcusable.  

The problems this experience highlights extend well beyond policy compliance. There are a range of issues critical to successful implementation that suffer from a lack of urgency and transparency, ranging from data collection and reporting to staffing, allocation, and deployment decisions.  

For those of us on the outside looking in, there is a lack of visibility about the progress being made (or lack thereof) on the consent decree.

This is causing people, even supporters, to lose confidence in the consent decree’s ability to achieve effective and constitutional policing.

As you preside over this case, please keep at the top of mind the need for urgency and greater transparency regarding CPD’s compliance with this agreement. Please exercise your authority to require meaningful community involvement in developing policies and training.  

The stakes are far too high to require anything less.

Thank you.

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