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Chicago Police Fire Training Vendor with Ties to Past Superintendent

Training is at the heart of the federal consent decree mandating sweeping police reforms in Chicago in the wake of the police killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, but the city has decided to cut ties to the Texas firm that has been paid more than $1.3 million to train Chicago officers, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. Barely two months after the resignation of Police Superintendent David Brown, following the reelection defeat of Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Chicago's acting top cop canceled the city's contract with Professional Law Enforcement Training, which is led by Byron Boston, who served with Brown in the Dallas Police Department. “I have been made aware of CPD’s training agreement with PLET and the significant cost associated with it,” acting Superintendent Fred Waller wrote in a terse email Friday to Tina Skahill, the police department’s executive director of constitutional policing and reform, who played an influential role in Brown’s administration. “Today, please send a letter to PLET notifying them that CPD will no longer need their services as of June 1, 2023,” Waller added in the message obtained by the Sun-Times through a public records request.

A “compensation agreement” with PLET was signed by Brown and Boston in February 2021, according to records obtained by the Sun-Times. Under the agreement, on PLET letterhead, the company was to receive $16,500 a month for a year to conduct training broadly focused on drug investigations and operations, firearm trafficking, undercover operations and street gang investigations. In addition to that work, totaling $198,000, the police department had the option to pay $4,950 for each additional training session, according to the agreement. PLET has received more than $1.1 million in other payments dating to April 2022, according to the city’s compensation portal, which notes that some checks have gone uncashed. Those payments relate to another agreement to help provide 40 hours of yearly training to existing officers, the source said. That training is separate from a six-month Policing Leadership Academy at the University of Chicago, funded by a $25 million contribution from billionaire Ken Griffin, that the Sun-Times reports is basing its lessons on two cities that can offer Chicago some useful lessons in homicide reduction: New York and Los Angeles. The new academy started Monday for 24 participants. Leaders of the academy include Kenneth Corey, a former high-ranking New York police official, Tyeesha Dixon, Chicago’s top adviser for implementation of the federally enforced consent degree that governs Chicago police practices, and former Los Angeles Police Department officials Sandy Jo MacArthur and Luann Pannell. “Los Angeles and New York City were early adopters of data-driven policing management,” said Kristen Mahoney, director of the academy. “Research by the University of Chicago Crime Lab shows that these types of management interventions can reduce violent crime rates and police use of force by more than a third. But we haven’t seen that same success in Chicago, where murder rates have remained stagnant for 30 years. That needs to change, and the PLA’s education in police management and leadership is the key to progress.”


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