After heated debates and stories that have made national headlines, Chicago’s residents will have a chance for the next two days to weigh in on a proposed consent decree that could change the way Chicago police interact with the public.
Wednesday marked the first day of a two-day public hearing on the proposed decree, which was constructed by a wide range of groups to institute greater police oversight and to achieve lower crime rates in the city of Chicago.
Some area residents are in favor of the decree, saying that it would create a culture of greater accountability around the department. Others, including long-time Chicago police officer John Catanzara, disagree.
“I don’t think this is much of a fairness hearing,” he said. “It’s more of a dog and pony show.”
The consent decree gained momentum and was ultimately agreed upon in the wake of the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke was ultimately convicted of second-degree murder in the death, and community organizers hope that the consent decree will prevent similar shootings from taking place.
“Unless we have a standard that is written somewhere that says ‘when you violate these rules you are going to be held accountable,’ we are not going to have the beginnings of change that we need to have in our city,” Rev. Saeed Richardson of the Community Renewal Society said.
Some groups, including the Fraternal Order of Police, say that they weren’t included in the consent decree, and others, including U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, believe that the decree is too vague and is “anti-democratic” in nature.
“No one has come and asked for our input on these things,” Catanzara said.
The two-day hearing will conclude Thursday, and a final decision is expected later this year.