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Justice Report Finds Systemic Failures By Chicago Police

Posted by on Jan. 13, 2017 at 11:42 AM
  • 3 Replies

The U.S. Department of Justice has released a long-awaited report castigating the Chicago Police Department for abuse against citizens, excessive force and unfair treatment of minorities.

The federal investigation — launched more than a year ago amid the fallout over the shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald by a white officer — found that Chicago police have systematically violated people's civil rights.


One of the report's main findings echoes a contention black and Hispanic Chicagoans have made for decades – that police unfairly target minorities for uses of force.

The department's problems have taken root because of a lack of effective training, supervision, policy and discipline, the Justice Department found.

The report's release marks a landmark for the country's second-largest local police department and one of the last acts of President Barack Obama's Justice Department. Under Obama, the agency was unusually active in intervening in troubled police departments at a time when police shootings of African-Americans — some recorded on video and shared worldwide — spurred heated protests.

But the report also lands as serious questions loom about the future of police reform in Chicago and nationwide. President-elect Donald Trump has supported aggressive law enforcement, and his nominee for attorney general, Alabama Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions, has criticized consent decrees, a key federal tool for forcing compliance in troubled departments.

Local activists and lawyers have voiced fears that Mayor Rahm Emanuel's resolve to change policing will wane if Trump's Justice Department relaxes its stance, but the mayor has said he's committed to improving the 12,000-strong police force. During the 13-month investigation, Emanuel pressed changes in line with reforms that federal authorities have tended to seek in other departments: tightening use-of-force policies and stepping up training and discipline.

Still, the mayor has faced criticism from activists and civil rights attorneys, in part because his plan to overhaul the department and oversight authority leaves much control with City Hall. Emanuel's reforms remain unfinished, and last week the top department official assigned to oversee departmental reforms quit after six months on the job to become police chief in Oakland, Calif.

The mayor is also contending with rampant gun violence on the South and West sides, which some blame on police scaling back activity to avoid controversies. Chicago had 762 homicides in 2016, the most in two decades.

The report closes one chapter of a saga that started with the release of police dashboard camera video of Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting McDonald 16 times in October 2014. The city fought for more than a year to avoid releasing the video even as it agreed to pay $5 million to McDonald's family before a lawsuit was even filed.

The video's release in November 2015 sparked furious protests over its graphic images. The department's handling of the case added to the controversy as several officers gave reports and accounts indicating McDonald had menaced or attacked Van Dyke with a knife. That clashed with the footage showing McDonald moving away from officers. In addition, commanding officers promptly signed off on the reports and initially ruled the shooting justified.

Just after the video's release, Emanuel fired then-Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy, and Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez lost her bid for reelection last year after criticism for failing to charge Van Dyke with murder until it became clear the video would become public.

McDonald's death brought cries for policing reform to a head in Chicago, but discontent with the city's police reaches back decades, particularly among African-Americans, many of whom have had run-ins with police they found to be disrespectful or aggressive.

Outgoing U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the investigation into the department in December 2015, but Emanuel jumped ahead of her agency by commissioning his own report from his hand-picked panel, the Police Accountability Task Force. In April that panel released a report accusing the department of racial bias that has hurt African-Americans and calling for reforms in police discipline, among other areas.

Emanuel moved to abolish the agency, which will be replaced later this year by an office slated to have a bigger staff and a broader mandate to conduct investigations.

The Police Department previously provided little training to officers beyond the academy, but the agency has recently rolled out new instruction on defusing tense situations and dealing with the mentally ill.

Meanwhile, the department is finalizing new use-of-force rules that could limit situations in which officers can shoot people, among other changes. The city plans to equip officers citywide with body cameras by the end of 2017.

jmeisner@chicagotribune.com

asweeney@chicagotribune.com

dhinkel@chicagotribune.com

jgorner@chicagotribune.com

Copyright © 2017, Chicago Tribune
by on Jan. 13, 2017 at 11:42 AM
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Replies (1-3):
MissAndree
by Ronita on Jan. 13, 2017 at 11:44 AM


One of the report's main findings echoes a contention black and Hispanic Chicagoans have made for decades – that police unfairly target minorities for uses of force.

The department's problems have taken root because of a lack of effective training, supervision, policy and discipline, the Justice Department found.

Pema_Jampa
by Ruby Member on Jan. 13, 2017 at 12:34 PM
Bump
couture-mommy
by 8.21.1831 on Jan. 13, 2017 at 1:33 PM
1 mom liked this
Bump

Because I have been saying this for years.
It happens everywhere and as long as people turn a blind eye to the systematic racism of racial institutions... it will continue to happen. And the racists are able to say: "see, those blacks and brown people are more dangerous".

Even reporting of a black suspect vs a white one is vastly different and rooted in racism.
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