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Former federal prosecutor appointed to oversee Chicago Police Department reform

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'We say bring it on and let's get down to business'

Chris Walker/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images

A former federal prosecutor has been named to oversee the Chicago Police Department as it begins its official five-year plan to reform the department, WBEZ-FM reported.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Robert Dow Jr. appointed Maggie Hickey to monitor a consent decree between the state of Illinois and the city of Chicago that was approved in late January.

"We've known about this consent decree for the last two years, so we're prepared mentally to have to deal with it," Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said Friday following the announcement. "Matter of fact, the consent decree will make us better. We say bring it on and let's get down to business."

The agreement came in late January after a long legal battle between the two parties over the CPD's troubling record of civil rights violations as detailed in a 2017 Department of Justice report.

"On a day when we marked a 44 percent decrease in homicides and a 24 percent reduction in shootings, today's data and today's agreement capture the new direction of the Chicago Police Department," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement Friday. "This agreement, which is the result of the changes we sought and agreed to, will ensure a better city, a better CPD, and safer streets."

The Justice Department's report described the Chicago Police Department's use of force as excessive and racially discriminatory.

The 2014 fatal shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald by then-CPD Officer Jason Van Dyke sparked a huge cry for justice from activists after video of the incident was released.

Van Dyke, who's white, was later convicted of killing McDonald, a black teenager who appeared to be walking away from police while holding a knife in his hand.

The consent decree will require the department to produce monthly reports on its use of force incidents, it bans officers from using a Taser on suspects who are running away, stronger police accountability and discipline, and stronger community policing, among others.

More about Hickey

Hickey has served in a number of state-appointed roles, including state executive inspector general under Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner, according to her professional profile.

In 2018, she led an independent review of Chicago's school district policies and procedures after the Chicago Tribune reported students had been sexually abused by Chicago Public School employees.

That same year, she was selected by state legislators to investigate sexual harassment within all departments of Illinois' Office of the Speaker of the House.

Hickey's law firm issued a statement following her appointment, WTTW-TV reported:

We are humbled by the trust the city and state have placed in our team to do this important work on behalf of the people of Chicago. We know this is a pivotal time in our city's history and the Schiff Hardin-CNA team looks forward to working with our communities, CPD, the city and the state, Judge Coar, and Judge Dow, to make Chicago a safer city.

What else?

Retired federal Judge David Coar was appointed by Dow to be a special master. Coar will be tasked with overseeing the federal monitor. He will also act as full-time judge and arbiter of the process, according to WTTW.

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