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New York Times Editorial Tells Rahm: Chicago Needs Court Oversight Of Police Reform

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jul 5, 2017 8:50PM

Getty Images / Photo: Scott Olson

We've been seeing an awful lot of Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the Opinion Pages of the New York Times lately. Just a day after the Times published Rahm's Op-Ed that called for greater federal transit aid (and took a none-too-well-received potshot at the MTA), the paper published an editorial that Rahm himself is likely not too thrilled to see. The Editorial Board on Tuesday called on the mayor to embrace a court-enforced consent decree as the best possible path to reform the embattled Chicago Police Department.

As the editorial points out, Rahm had originally made overtures to pursuing a consent decree—which would allow a federal judge to enforce recommended police reforms—in the immediate wake of the stinging results of a yearlong probe into CPD by the Obama-era Department of Justice. But the mayor walked it back, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered a review of federal agreements back in April—even though the option still existed of Rahm partnering with community groups to pursue court oversight, DOJ skepticism or not.

A coalition of civil-rights groups, including Black Lives Matter, filed a federal lawsuit last month in hopes of securing a court monitoring. The New York Times editorial board concurs. It noted the lay of the land:

"Mr. Emanuel believes that a monitor would be fine — because, as he sees it, the city is already well on its way to reforms that it can institute itself. A whole phalanx of officials disagrees. The city’s inspector general, for example, said that bypassing the courts would be a mistake and spawn further distrust in minority communities."

The board cites state AG Lisa Madigan's blasting of Rahm's decision to step away from the judiciary path in a Tribune commentary. "There has never been systemic and comprehensive police reform in Chicago because there has never been an enforceable court order requiring it," she wrote.

"Mayor Emanuel should take those words to heart and act," the Times pushed.

The editorial, titled Who Can Reform the Chicago Police?, was published one week after three Chicago cops were indicted on felony conspiracy charges in the alleged cover-up that followed the killing of Laquan McDonald. Now-fired cop Jason Van Dyke faces a murder charge in the teen's shooting death.