Obama's DOJ: Chicago Police Use Unconstitutional, 'Excessive' Force

Alicia WestJan 14, 2017

In a scathing report released Friday, the U.S. Dept. of Justice announced it has reason to believe the Chicago Police Dept. has engaged in "a pattern of civil rights violations".

While many hoped that the investigation would result in a legally binding consent decree between the city and the federal government to implement police reforms, the DOJ and the city emerged only with an "agreement in principle."

The finding issued Friday came as the Justice Department and the city of Chicago issued "a statement of agreement" detailing remedies to improve policing in the nation's third-largest city and fix a shattered public trust.

The Justice Department launched its investigation following the police shooting of Laquan McDonald on October 2014.

"Because training and the evaluation of its impact on new recruits is so deficient, CPD can not properly identify which recruits need further training or even dismissal, resulting in new recruits policing Chicago communities who, despite their best intentions, from the outset are ill-equipped and perhaps incapable of policing effectively and constitutionally", the report says.

Among the findings included in the 164-page report, released Friday, is evidence of improper training, insufficient oversight and systemic racism that has made black and Latino Chicagoans the victims of 10 times more police violence than the city's white residents. Jeff Sessions, expressed concerns during his Senate confirmation hearing this week that federal litigation against police departments "can undermine respect for police officers." Sen.


A complaint of verbal racial abuse essentially had to be caught on video or audio in order to have been addressed, the Department of Justice found.

Van Dyke is facing trial on murder charges. Asked if the DOJ's agreement with Chicago would stick after the change in administration, Lynch said the agreement was not dependent upon "one or two or three" people who lead the DOJ, but on the work of all involved in the process, including Chicago city officials. The department was at the center of high-profile incidents like the violent clashes with anti-Vietnam War protesters at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, the 1969 killing of noted Black Panther leader Fred Hampton and the era of torture under former Police Commander Jon Burge.

Nearly certainly, the onus will be on Emanuel to lead the effort to carry out the report's recommended reforms - just because it's the right thing to do - without Justice Department pressure.

The ink is barely dry on the Department of Justice's damning report into the Chicago Police Department, released Friday morning, which determined, among other grim findings that the department's institutional failures extend to CPD's handling of race relations.

Discriminatory actions by police officers, which lie at the heart of the eroded community trust toward law enforcement, were, again and again, unaddressed, the report concludes. The DOJ also heard from CPD command members, 90 community groups, more than 1,000 citizens, and 11 "independent subject-matter experts". Although the examples and specific cases will be different in Chicago, the tone and substance are likely to be similar to what was found in Baltimore, where Thursday Lynch announced a consent agreement; federal oversight to fix the police problems.

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