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Rahm 'Finally Got It,' Aldermen Say After Speech - But Can He Fix CPD?

By  Paul Biasco Mark Konkol and Ted Cox | December 9, 2015 11:53am | Updated on December 9, 2015 2:17pm

 Mayor Rahm Emanuel addressed the City Council on Wednesday about police brutality and the Laquan McDonald case.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel addressed the City Council on Wednesday about police brutality and the Laquan McDonald case.
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Getty Images/Scott Olson

CITY HALL — Several aldermen reacted skeptically to Mayor Rahm Emanuel's mea culpa on police accountability, while others said the mayor "finally got it" and reform is on the horizon.

The speech, which Emanuel delivered during a special meeting of the City Council, focused on trust issues between the police department following the Laquan McDonald shooting controversy.

RELATED: Rahm Speech to City Council On Laquan Case: 'I'm Sorry'

“He broke up, he got emotional. This is serious stuff. I’m glad he's taking it seriously," said Ald. Walter Burnett (27th). "I think some good things are going to come from this.”

 Chicago aldermen listen to Mayor Rahm Emanuel's police reform speech Wednesday morning.
Chicago aldermen listen to Mayor Rahm Emanuel's police reform speech Wednesday morning.
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DNAinfo/Paul Biasco

Burnett said the controversy has come to the tipping point where Emanuel has no option other than to reform the police department, but added the issue dates back to before the current mayor's tenure.

"I expect true reform. I think he has no other choice than to bring true reform, long overdue reform," Burnett said. "This stuff didn’t happen under him, it’s been going on for a long time.”

Other aldermen such as Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), a vocal opponent of the mayor, said the speech "lacked substance" and "lacked an action plan," aside from the federal investigations and new Task Force on Police Accountability that have already been announced.

"The changes that really have to take place in the police department, they have to take place across the system, all the way up to the Fifth Floor," Waguespack added, making reference to the Mayor's Office. "I don't see things changing until we change what happens on the fifth floor all the way throughout each one of these departments that were involved.

"Everyone operates in their own silos and until we change that and the DOJ comes in and gives us the recommendations that we need, nothing's going to change," he said.

While Emanuel called for a rebuilding of trust, Waguespack said that trust was never there in the first place.

"The same people can’t be in position doing this over and over again; it's got to change throughout the whole system," Waguespack said.

Ald. Proco Joe Moreno (1st) said he was "cautiously optimistic" following the speech.

"There have been times when we hear great speech," Moreno said. "We hear great talk and there’s no action.”

Ald. Jason Ervin (28th) called the speech "a positive first step," but Ald. Pat Dowell (3rd) called it "a tall order" that would "require a lot of funding."

Ald. Anthony Beale (9th) said Emanuel has “finally got it” and now is a “golden opportunity” to totally reform the police department.

“From what I got from the speech, I think the light bulb has gone on," Beale said. "I think the mayor has finally got it. Something has clicked based on what I’m hearing.”

Beale called the crisis a "golden opportunity" to finally put trust in the communities, which he said don't trust the police.

"And we’ve been saying that for decades. We can put trust back in the community ... if an officer does wrong they’re going to be disciplined for it, they can no longer hide under the code of [silence]," Beale said.

Beale also put Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 leaders on notice that change includes the union’s contract.

"It sounds like them mayor is now open to all the changes that need to be implemented. … The FOP needs to get on board with the reform we need to implement and stop protecting those officers that are doing wrong," Beale said. "That’s going to mean scrubbing the contract, not just opening it. … We need to take the current contract that’s in place and basically throw it out the window and start over."  

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