There has been a lot of discussion in the news lately about consent decrees. Recently, the focus has been on Chicago, but what is a consent decree for police departments?
After a long civil rights investigation, the Justice Department found a history of problems within the Chicago Police Department that has been putting its officers and the community at risk. This investigation concluded that there was a need for federal intervention, a consent decree, in order to reform the Chicago Police Department.
What is a consent decree for police departments?
A consent decree is a court ordered reform plan for the police department. This document is overseen by a federal judge and is enforceable.
The document includes specific dates and requirements for the reform to be implemented, along with an approved independent monitor being tasked with tracking progress and reporting back to the federal judge.
Why is a consent decree needed?
Consent decrees have been used to improve police departments that have been investigated and have had serious problems that put the community and police department at risk.
The decree holds the city accountable, protects the residents of that city, and ensures that the changes that are made are constitutional and meet federal standards. The decree gives the federal government oversight into changes being made at the local level.
What does a consent decree cover?
In Chicago, the consent decree outlines key areas that the city needs to focus on in order to reform the department. These areas include: officer wellness and support, supervision and training, recruitment and hiring, impartial policing, community policing, use of force, accountability, and more.
How long does the consent decree last?
Consent decrees do include deadlines to implement specific reforms; however, typically there is not an expiration date on the document. The decree stays in place until the federal judge determines that the reforms have been successfully implemented, and based on the goals of the decree, the department has improved.
In addition to Chicago, consent decrees for police departments have also been used in cities like Ferguson, Baltimore, and Cleveland.
American Police Officers Alliance is going to continue to monitor and update our members on consent decrees. Follow us to get our updates!