Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
After a 13-month investigation, the U.S. Department of Justice released a 164-page report Friday detailing the abuse of force by the Chicago Police Department (CPD). According to their findings, officers’ brutality often goes unpunished — especially when its perpetrated in communities of color.
“The Department of Justice has concluded that there is reasonable cause to believe that the Chicago Police department engages in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force in violation of the fourth Amendment to the Constitution,” U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced in a press conference the day the report was released.
“Our investigation found that this pattern or practice is in no small part the result of severely deficient training procedures and accountability systems.”
Thousands of pages of documents, including policies, procedures, training plans, department orders and memos, internal and external reports as well as the city’s entire misconduct complaint database, were used as part of the investigation.
Additionally, the Department of Justice received over 500 phone calls, emails, and letters from individuals looking to lend their experience to the report. They included attorneys, paralegals, outreach specialists and data analysts from the civil rights division of the United States Department of Justice and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois, as well law enforcement officials from police departments nationwide.
Asst. Attorney General Vaita Gupta, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, and Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson also spoke at the press conference.
The pattern of deadly and non-deadly force that Chicago Police engages in “includes, for example, shooting at people who present no immediate threat and tasing people for not following verbal commands,” Gupta explained.
The Department of Justice found that the pattern of unconstitutional force is “largely attributable to systemic deficiencies within the CPD and the city,” she added, which includes inadequate training.
“For example, we observed training on deadly force that used a video made decades ago with guidance inconsistent with both current law and internal policy,” Gupta noted.
The report also details measures that the CPD has taken to resolve community relations and policies. Investing in a de-escalation training course for officers and establishing a Community Policing Advisory panel, in addition to recruitment efforts to increase the departments diversity, represent major improvements.
“The incidences described in this report are sobering to all of us. 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,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel.
In October 2014, the shooting of Laquan McDonald and the handling of its evidence sparked calls for the mayor’s resignation and the launch of the DOJ’s CPD investigation.
“Some of the finding in the report are difficult to read, but it highlights the work we have yet to complete to restore the trust between the department and the community,” added Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson.
Alexandra Rosenmann is an AlterNet associate editor. Follow her @alexpreditor.
IMAGE: United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch speaks to Reuters in an exclusive interview in Phoenix, Arizona, U.S., June 28, 2016. REUTERS/Nancy Wiechec