Judge hears Chicago citizens for, police against reform plan

CHICAGO — The first of two public hearings were held Wednesday for a controversial plan to reform the Chicago Police Department.

A total of 47 people were allowed to testify for and against the proposed consent decree.  The speakers  were chosen by lottery.

A handful of people lined up during the overnight hours to get in the lottery. Most of Thursday’s slots have also been selected.

The hearing began with opening remarks from the city and the Illinois Attorney General’s office about the proposed consent decree, the blueprint for reforming the Chicago Police Department resulted from nearly a year of negotiations.

The process was triggered by the deadly police shooting of Laquan McDonald in 2014. Officer Jason Van Dyke was convicted of second-degree murder.

Rev. Marvin Hunter, McDonald's great-uncle, was among those that testified.

“I have always said I did not want to reduce the death of my great nephew to just getting a conviction for Jason Van Dyke,” he said. “I believe we need real change and reform in the city of Chicago.”

The 225 page decree is the result of collaboration between city and state attorneys and calls for systemic changes in training, management and use of force within CPD.

Some feel it will build trust in the community and ensure transparency and accountability.

Reverend Jesse Jackson was among those chosen to speak. He told the judge that McDonald's case was a prime example for why a consent decree is needed.

“I think our city as a whole has demanded this,” ACLU attorney Karen Sheley said. “The state has and we need it it's absolutely necessary.”

But not according to everyone, including a member of the Fraternal Order of Police.

“To think they're going to negotiate a consent decree that violates our bargaining rights is ludicrous,” FOP member John Catanzara said. “It's not going to happen. There's no way it's going to stand an appellate challenge.”

Catanzara said police were not asked for input and wereleft out of the process.

Those in support of the decree are hopeful it will be a positive step forward.

“I am very confident we can get change,” Rev. Hunter said. “It may not take quantum leaps but the first step in a million miles is the first step.”