I live in Chicago, a relatively high-crime city where the murder rate is soaring. Lisa Madigan, the Attorney General of Illinois, has just sued the city seeking to change its police practices to prevent violations of civil rights. Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of Chicago, has welcomed the lawsuit and is looking to acquiesce in a consent decree which will create a new set of rules for the police department and a monitor to enforce them.
This collusive suit is a bad idea. To be sure, the Chicago Police Department needs reform, but this method reduces democratic accountability, imposes unnecessary costs, and most of all runs the risk of letting more people die from uncontrolled crime. And it is very unlikely to do what is most needed: eliminating or reducing the protections against discipline that police enjoy in union contracts or under civil service laws.
For an example of the kind of consent decree that is likely to be agreed upon, look at similar litigation in Baltimore, an even higher crime city with a murder rate that is going up even faster.