Hairston, Aug. 24

Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th), Aug. 24

Ald. Leslie Hairston's (5th) six-year-old ordinance to require the Chicago Police Department to maintain and provide arrestees with a list of all nonprofit and government legal service providers offering free legal representation will likely get a City Council vote in September, the Public Safety Committee chairman said.

Hairston is not a member of that committee, but she gave a frank, personal assessment of Chicago policing's shortcomings during its meeting.

During the first half of the session, when Deputy Inspector General for Public Safety Deborah Witzburg presented her 2019 report, Hairston asked about the still inconsistent use of body cameras and tests for officers' implicit racial biases. She said officers who have retired early have told her that they do so out of frustration because "they so cannot tolerate the racist comments of their colleagues," and called for an investigation.

Earlier this month, the Sun-Times reported that officers are currently retiring at double the normal rate recently.

When discussing her ordinance, Hairston noted that state law allows arrestees to consult with attorneys alone and in private at police stations and to make phone calls to attorneys within, as set by state administrative code, one hour of their detainment.

"As we've heard throughout this morning and now this afternoon, the police department is unwilling or incapable of operating in compliance with the law," Hairston said. "At every turn, they have habitually failed to follow state law and compliance, be it Department of Justice, be it State of Illinois, be it the City of Chicago.

"I heard the Deputy Inspector General talk about much ink having been spilled, but more blood has been spilled at the hands of the police not following the law."

She questioned whether the police understand whether they understand why there are calls for money to be allocated away from their department, "Because every time they've been given a task, because every time they've been given an order, every time they've had an opportunity to comply, they have failed — and what the reports have showed is that it was willful and wanton."

During the protests at the beginning of the summer, Hairston said arrestees' parents called her because they could not find their children. She referenced surveys that found bond court clients were routinely denied timely access to a phone.

Deputy Operations Chief Randall Darlin countered that the police have already reconfigured facilities to showcase notices of rights of persons under arrest — including the rights to phone calls and private attorney consultations within an hour of detainment — in processing areas and near phones in lockup areas. 

Additionally, Darlin said CPD has posted notice of free legal services in all detention facilities, including a toll-free all-hours number for free attorney access.

He said the department is concerned that the ordinance's one-hour requirement, "in the midst of situations that are often dynamic and multifaceted, is not always practical." He noted that the consent decree that the department is under with the Illinois Attorney General after the police murder of Laquan McDonald and other civil rights abuses requires detainees be given a phone call as soon as is practical. 

Lockup only occurs after an officer processes the detained person; completes the arrest report; gathers evidence; interviews the person, witnesses and victims; and books and takes fingerprints and a mugshot of him or her. Darlin said this process can take more than one hour.

Hairston pointed out that Darlin said the client-attorney meeting only happens after a police interrogation, which she said is against the law. 

"The purpose of having a lawyer is so that a person can be advised of their rights and have a public defender or an attorney to help them navigate through the process and not incriminate themselves. And you just admitted that you all already interrogate people before you give them an opportunity to have a lawyer present," she told Darlin. "And that is downright illegal under the Supreme Court rules."

Under prompting from Bridgeport Ald. Patrick Daley Thompson (11th), Darlin said the police give Miranda rights to anyone in custody prior to interrogation.

Austin Ald. Chris Taliaferro (29th), who chairs the Public Safety Committee, said he will likely bring Hairston's ordinance up for a vote before the council's scheduled Sept. 9 meeting, meaning that the council will vote on it next month.

The meeting came after an unusual turn of events last week, in which Hairston forced a Friday City Council meeting with three colleagues to, among other things, vote on a resolution on asking Gov. J.B. Pritzker to call the Illinois National Guard to the city after downtown looting and mayhem earlier this month, though she later disavowed her signature.

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