Cook County Record

Monday, March 30, 2020

Judge denies Chicago Fraternal Order of Police request to join lawsuit on police reform


By Elizabeth Alt | Aug 30, 2018

Chicago city hall

CHICAGO - A federal judge has denied a motion brought by the union representing Chicago's police officers to intervene as a party in litigation, in an attempt to limit the scope of a settlement agreement between the state of Illinois and the city of Chicago mandating reforms for the Chicago Police Department, to address allegations officers discriminate against African American and Latino city residents.

U.S. District Judge Robert M. Dow Jr. wrote the court order rejecting the Fraternal Order of Police Chicago Lodge No. 7’s motion to intervene as a party in the legal action filed by the state, stating the FOP was aware of the possible impacts for them “but delayed nine months before filing suit…the FOP will have multiple opportunities in the course of this proceeding to present its views—just not as parties to the litigation.”

In August 2017, the state sued the city of Chicago in effort to end the alleged “unconstitutional conduct that has plagued CPD for decades,” alleging violations of the Fourth Amendment, the Illinois Constitution, the Illinois Human Rights Act and the Illinois Civil Rights Act of 2003. 

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The complaint alleges CPD has a pattern of using excessive force, deadly force and other misconduct that “disproportionately harms Chicago’s African American and Latino residents.”

The state’s lawsuit came at the heels of an investigation led by the U.S. Department of Justice that concluded “CPD has continued to engage in a repeated pattern of using excessive force and racially discriminatory policing practices.”

The state and the city have worked on negotiations extensively in the year since the suit was filed, including meetings with FOP’s president Kevin Graham, to arrive at a draft for a consent decree designed to encompass a range of reforms for the “critical deficiencies at CPD, including departmental policies and practices, such as use of force, accountability, training, community policing and engagement, supervision and promotion.”

The FOP publicly contested the consent decree, claiming it could create a catastrophe that would “only handcuff the police even further,” and claim the decree could threaten collective bargaining rights.

On August 8, the FOP filed a motion to intervene, arguing neither the city nor state will adequately represent their interests. The motion claims the consent decree does not include assurances that their rights and the rights of their members won’t be compromised.

Judge Dow stated the state has standing to sue under the parens patriae doctrine. Judge Dow noted that the State and City have promised to provide a “fairness hearing” at which the FOP can address any “perceived conflict or legal violation.”

 “FOP chose to sit on the sidelines for nine months," the judge said. "The FOP’s decision…to limit its participation in the negotiation process despite invitations to join in more formally and comprehensively appears to have been strategic, and it must live with the consequences of that decision as it relates to this belated attempt to intervene as a party in this lawsuit.”

The trial is set for August 30.

United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Case No. 17-cv-6260

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Organizations in this Story

State of IllinoisChicago Police DepartmentU.S. District Court for the Northern District of IllinoisCity of ChicagoIllinois Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 Chicago