The effort to reform the Chicago Police Department was never supposed to happen quickly, with the potential for a nearly decadelong, laborious process for a court to call it complete. Three years into the work, criticism continues over the department’s ability to grasp a fundamental tenet of any police reform effort: engaging with the public in a way that fosters meaningful and sustained trust and cooperation, the Chicago Tribune reports. In its latest report, the monitor overseeing the federal consent decree concluded Chicago police don’t fully understand the various ways the department can interact with the public, or even how its current community-policing programs complement each other.
The criticism strikes at an area this foundational for the court-ordered reform effort as a whole, and one that Police Superintendent David Brown has often highlighted as he fends off critics. It also comes as the city is gearing up for a mayoral race next year, in which Mayor Lori Lightfoot will contend with the effects of persistent gun violence and clamoring from the community to see real reform. Last year, Brown said the department "is taking a big swing at community policing, community engagement and building trust, Arguably, this will be the most significant commitment of effort, resources and leadership to building trust in Chicago PD’s history.” Almost a year later, the federal monitor's report notes that community policing is a CPD push with deep flaws. Some community stakeholders view the report as an alarm bell — an indication that, although the department is ticking off reform requirements, deep-rooted change remains elusive.