Department of Justice findings in Chicago police “use excessive force”
By: Martin Hunter, Xiro Xone News January 13, 2017 Updated: 4:11 PM
A Justice Department investigation concluded the Chicago Police Department is beset by widespread racial bias, excessive use of force, poor training and oversight of officers accused of misconduct.
Their investigation of the 12,000-officer force - one of the nation’s largest - in December 2015 following the release of dashcam video showing a white police officer shoot a black teenager, Laquan McDonald,16 times as he walked away holding a small, folded knife. The video of the 2014 shooting, which the city fought to keep from being released, inspired large protests and cost the city’s police commissioner his job.
The report also cited a pervasive "code of silence" that leads officers to lie to protect themselves and colleagues. Disciplinary authorities, in turn, have rarely brought cases against officers who lied, even when their statements were contradicted by video, while officers are almost never held accountable for even the worst shootings, it found.
At a news conference, Lynch said the department's pattern of how it uses excessive force "is in no small part the result of severely deficient training procedures and accountability systems."
"CPD does not give its officers the training they need to do their jobs safely, effectively and lawfully," Lynch said. "It fails to properly collect and analyze data, including data on misconduct complaints and training deficiencies, and it does not adequately review use-of-force incidents to determine whether force was appropriate or lawful or whether the use of force could've been avoided altogether."
All of these issues, she added, have led to "low officer morale and erosion of officer accountability."
“Sadly, our thorough investigation into the Chicago Police Department found that far too many residents of this proud city have not received that kind of policing," said Attorney General Loretta Lynch in announcing the findings. "The resulting deficit in trust and accountability is not just bad for residents – it’s also bad for dedicated police officers trying to do their jobs safely and effectively."
Attorney General Loretta Lynch said the report lays “the groundwork for the difficult but necessary work of building a stronger, safer, and more united Chicago for all who call it home.”
Mayor Rahm Emanuel agreed to enter a court-enforced agreement with the Justice Department on a wide range of reforms, Lynch and other officials announced.
"The incidents described in this report are sobering to all of us," he said. "Police misconduct will not be tolerated anywhere in the city of Chicago, and those who break the rules will be held accountable for their actions. Misconduct not only harms the individuals affected, it damages the reputation of the Chicago Police Department.
“Our officers know they need to earn the trust of the residents they serve and the community they police – they don’t get a blank check,” Emanuel said. “But when they do, they need to hear from all of us that they are appreciated and their work is important.”
On Thursday, the Justice Department and the city of Baltimore announced they agreed to terms of a consent decree.
The Justice Department found widespread issues with unconstitutional policing in Baltimore after it opened a probe there following the controversial death of Freddie Gray, an unarmed black man whose death while in Baltimore Police Department custody spurred violent protests in the city.
Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for attorney general, expressed ambivalence at his confirmation hearing this week about the federal review process. He said he was concerned that broad investigations of police departments risk smearing an entire agency and harming officer morale.