Chicago’s Emanuel At Crossroads on Police Reform

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Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is at a crossroads now that a lawsuit and a rare public rebuke from Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan have racheted up the pressure for federal court oversight over the Chicago Police Department, reports the Chicago Sun-Times. The mayor has four options as he seeks to regain the trust of African-American voters he lost by concealing the Laquan McDonald shooting video. He can dig in his heels and fight the lawsuit, while aligning himself with President Trump’s Justice Department. He can follow through on January commitment to seek a consent decree and force U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who opposes court oversight over local police departments, to play the bad guy.

He can continue to seek an independent monitor without court oversight, but start negotiating the terms, deadlines, financial commitments and selection process with the same stakeholders with whom he bargained endlessly before abolishing the Independent Police Review Authority. Or, he could join forces with Madigan, lawsuit plaintiffs, and other reform advocates in petitioning for federal court oversight, even without the DOJ as a willing partner. Hours after the lawsuit was filed, Emanuel refused to tip his hand. All four options have potential pitfalls for the mayor, who is deciding whether to seek a third term following months of protests and demands for his resignation after a judge ordered the city to release the video of white police officer Jason Van Dyke shooting black teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times.

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