One week before the end of President Obama’s Administration, The Department of Justice headed by Attorney General Loretta Lynch concluded a 13-month federal probe into the Chicago Police Department. The DOJ began investigating the CPD in December of 2015, after the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald, and the subsequent uproar that ensued. Because of protests by the people of Chicago, and their complaints regarding the use of excessive force, institutionalized racism, and the long-standing code of silence, the CPD, came under the scrutiny of the DOJ.
The result of the 161 page DOJ report, the CPD was found to be guilty of:
- Use of unjustified force
- Shooting of fleeing suspects
- Shooting at vehicles
- Using Tasers unnecessarily
- And retaliation.
The findings of this report also concluded that there were high instances of misconduct in the Black and Latino neighborhoods and that blacks were almost ten times more likely than whites to have an incident with an officer. Also, of the encounters where a firearm was used, 80% involved blacks, and “83% involved black children and 14% involved Latino children during the same period”.
The investigation attributed the findings to a lack of police training and failure to conduct use of force investigations. Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emmanuel and Superintendent Eddie Johnson have taken numerous steps creating a Civilian Office of Police Accountability to replace the current IPRA(). They are starting a pilot for body cameras which will eventually be implemented CPD wide. A hotline is also in the process of being established for employees to report misconduct. Former Chicago Police Chief Garry McCarthy was strangely absent from the DOJ report, and he claimed that the DOJ had not reached out to him. McCarthy was let go from the CPD due to accusations that the department had a high profile cover up of the Laquan McDonald shooting.
Centrist Perspective: Isn’t this just a slap on the wrist by the DOJ? What message is the DOJ sending to other police departments across the United States? I am not saying all police departments and police officers are corrupt. There is a huge percentage of good cops patrolling the streets of America.
As the daughter of a former police officer, I have the highest respect for those who serve and protect. I feel the problem begins with accountability. Corrupt officers put good officers in harm’s way. The “bad cop” puts mistrust amongst the community, and this leads to increased tensions and bad community relations.
There is a deadly trend that is growing and will continue to grow. Police officers are breaking the law and not being held accountable. They are walking away in their uniform, right back to the streets to patrol once again. Law abiding Police officers need to hold their peers responsible for their unlawful actions, and despite the code of silence, when a fellow officer breaks the law, they should report these vigilante officers.
I realize it sounds easy, but it’s not. The community does not want to get involved because of fear of being harassed by these officers. Plus, their peers on the force don’t want to get involved for fear of retaliation and retribution. When and where will these officers be held accountable? When will we start criminalizing this behavior? Or are we doomed to be judged, convicted, and sentenced on the street?
Press release and supporting documents posted earlier to the DOJ website.