Sessions Calls on Chicago Lawmakers to Spike Consent Decree as ‘Insult’ to Police

October 21, 2018 Updated: October 21, 2018

WASHINGTON—Attorney General Jeff Sessions says a consent agreement between the city of Chicago and the ACLU was a “very unwise agreement” that is not only anti-democratic, but has also contributed to a 30 percent increase in murders the year it was implemented. 

Speaking to the Chicago Crime Commission on Oct. 19, he cited a study by University of Utah researchers, who concluded that a decline in stop-and-frisks, used to search people suspected of engaging in illegal behavior, was connected to the spike in murders the city saw in 2016, the year the agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union went into effect.

“These stops are completely lawful and have been upheld by the Supreme Court for 50 years,” Sessions said. “Good, lawful, smart policing works. If you let Antifa and the ACLU set police policy, crime will go up.  If you listen to police professionals, crime will go down.”

The agreement between the ACLU, the city, and the police department required police officers to undergo more training and to write a report for each time they stopped someone. Former U.S. Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys was tasked with overseeing compliance with the agreement and issuing a biannual report on his findings.

The city is now in the final stages of working out a consent decree with the ACLU of Illinois and Black Lives Matter Chicago that would put further restrictions on Chicago police.

“Micromanaging the CPD through a federal court isn’t just unjustified—it is an insult. We don’t need to treat Chicago’s officers like some sort of rogue police department because of the actions of a few,” Sessions said. 

He pointed to strides already being made in the department, and recommended that, instead of appointing a federal monitor to oversee Chicago police, the department focus on weeding out the bad apples and “affirm and support the vast majority who do their duty faithfully and properly.”

Without mentioning them by name, Sessions accused Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan, both of whom don’t plan to seek reelection, of trying to “control the department from their political graves.” The Illinois Attorney General’s office sued the city to force a consent decree, and the city capitulated.  

“This debate is largely about power. It’s about who should run the police department: the professionals or the activists? The people of Chicago or an unelected judge and a couple of soon-to-be-retired politicians?” Sessions said. 

He also warned that once it’s set, the consent decree would be hard to change, and would “deprive the next mayor, the city council, and the superintendent of the lawful authority that they ought to have.”

The people of Chicago have set up a framework that creates a police superintendent, whose job is to administer the affairs of the Chicago Police Department. This clearly fixed responsibility would be seriously undermined by such an agreement.”

He praised former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and his police commissioner from 1994 to 1996, Bill Bratton, for starting a “virtuous cycle of safety and prosperity” using the stop-and-frisk method, pointing to a dramatic drop in murders from the time Giuliani took office in 1994 to when he left in 2001. There were 649 murders in 2001, down from 1,927 murders in 1993. 

Speaking at the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) convention in Orlando, President Donald Trump said he asked Sessions to work with local authorities in Chicago to try to change the “terrible deal” the city was about to enter into.

He said stop-and-frisk works when “properly applied,” but also said he’s “open-minded” when specifically asked during a meeting with singer Kanye West about the practice. West said he believes stop-and-frisk “does not help the relationships in the city,” to which Trump replied, “Hey, I’m open-minded. I’m here. I am open-minded.”

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