Mayor’s fi­nal city bud­get to ear­mark $25.7 mil­lion for po­lice re­form, fed­eral mon­i­tor

Chicago Sun-Times - - FRONT PAGE - BY FRAN SPIELMAN,

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Fri­day his fi­nal city bud­get will ear­mark $25.7 mil­lion for po­lice re­form, in­clud­ing the first-year cost of a fed­eral mon­i­tor­ing team that is likely to re­main in place for “north of five years and less than 10 years.”

In a wide-rang­ing in­ter­view with the Chicago Sun-Times, Emanuel said that $25.7 mil­lion tab is cer­tain to be the an­nual floor for Chicago tax­pay­ers for as long as it takes to im­ple­ment a con­sent de­cree ne­go­ti­ated with Illi­nois At­tor­ney Gen­eral Lisa Madi­gan.

“It’s par­al­lel as the mayor that ac­tu­ally saw the con­clu­sion of the Shak­man de­cree re­form­ing our hir­ing prac­tice, pro­fes­sion­al­iz­ing it, rip­ping pol­i­tics out of it,” he said.

“When you look at Shak­man, the rea­son the judge let us out is not just the rules, but the cul­ture had changed. My goal here is to get the rules in place and in­grained in a way that the cul­ture of the po­lice depart­ment is also changed for the bet­ter.”

Emanuel said the good thing about fed­eral court over­sight over the Chicago Po­lice Depart­ment is that the city has been work­ing on it ever since the U.S. Jus­tice Depart­ment is­sued its scathing re­port trig­gered by the po­lice shoot­ing of Laquan McDon­ald.

“We go in front of a judge with about 18 to 19 months of se­ri­ous changes al­ready hap­pen­ing — on de-es­ca­la­tion, on more reg­u­lar train­ing, on sep­a­ra­tion of men­tal health kind of calls from crim­i­nal calls. There’s use of force. There’s the body cam­eras and the Tasers. There’s trans­parency around videos. There’s COPA re­form,” he said.

“It’s not like we got a re­port and we were wait­ing for a fed­eral judge. We were busy at work.”

But the mayor also knows that it took Chicago a decade to get out from un­der the costly con­straints of the Shak­man de­cree and a fed­eral hir­ing mon­i­tor af­ter a hir­ing scan­dal that cost tax­pay­ers $22.9 mil­lion.

That’s ap­par­ently why, when pressed to pre­dict how long this fed­eral mon­i­tor­ing team would be in place, the mayor said, “It’s north of five years and less than 10 years.”

Emanuel’s sec­ond term was de­fined by his de­ci­sion to wait un­til one week af­ter the April 7, 2015, may­oral runoff elec­tion to au­tho­rize a $5 mil­lion set­tle­ment to the McDon­ald fam­ily — be­fore a law­suit was filed.

The in­fa­mous shoot­ing video was re­leased on Nov. 24, 2015, only af­ter a judge or­dered it. That same day, Ja­son Van Dyke, the white of­fi­cer in the video, was charged with the first­de­gree mur­der of the black teenager.

Van Dyke was convicted last week of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der and 16 counts of ag­gra­vated bat­tery.

On Fri­day, Emanuel ac­cepted re­spon­si­bil­ity for his role in with­hold­ing the video.

“We had a pol­icy as a city — like ev­ery other city and ev­ery other mayor — that you never let the video out be­cause you didn’t want to taint any of the rec­ol­lec­tions of the wit­nesses,” he said.

Fran Spielman sits down with Mayor Rahm Emanuel

“There was no pol­i­tics that played a role here . ... We had a process in place, and that process went for­ward like it had in ev­ery other in­stance. But it didn’t work in this si­t­u­a­tion.”

But he de­fi­antly ar­gued that “other in­sti­tu­tions,” in­clud­ing the news me­dia, also failed in their re­spon­si­bil­ity to ques­tion the sta­tus quo.

“I’m the big dog. I get it. [But] go back at that press con­fer­ence. All of the ques­tions were about [Jon] Burge, ex­cept for two, which were about the amount of money and could we af­ford it. Not about what hap­pened,” the mayor said.

“The city, the sys­tems were all shown to be asleep. We had got­ten into a pat­tern over 30 to 40 years of just fol­low­ing and not ask­ing. I take re­spon­si­bil­ity. I’m the mayor. I don’t think I’ve shirked that re­spon­si­bil­ity . ... But all of us have a role. All of us were asleep at the switch.”

RICH HEIN/SUN-TIMES

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is in­ter­viewed by Sun-Times City Hall Re­porter Fran Spielman on Fri­day at City Hall.

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