Justice Department Probe Finds Chicago Police Routinely Violate Civil Rights
The lack of police accountability is responsible for a “deadly cycle” of violence.
Published on January 16, 2017

A Justice Department probe conducted in response to the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald has found that the Chicago Police Department has routinely violated the civil rights of the city's residents.

US Attorney General Loretta Lynch reported that the investigation found that the CPD "engages in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force that violates the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution." The probe concluded that these violations are due to “severely deficient” training, lack of oversight, and misuse of data.

"Far too many communities suffer because of painful divisions between police and citizens," Lynch said. "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. With this announcement, we are laying the groundwork for the difficult but necessary work of building a stronger, safer and more united Chicago for all who call it home.”

The 13-month investigation found that cops shot at people who posed no "immediate threat to officers" and used Tasers on people "for not following verbal commands," Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta said. The probe also showed that "Chicago's accountability systems are broken." 

"When investigations do occur, they are glacially slow and staffed by overworked and under trained investigators who often fail to obtain basic witness statements and evidence." Officers are "too rarely held accountable for misconduct and discipline is unpredictable and ineffective,” said Gupta. 

Investigators found that the CPD is training officers using decades-old material that no longer accurately reflects current use-of-force laws. The probe concluded that the pattern of police misconduct, particularly against the city's minority communities, has led to a “deadly cycle” of violence that was responsible for the surge of violence that saw over 700 murders in the city last year.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has signed an agreement promising that the city will negotiate a legally binding consent decree ensuring that CPD reforms will be implemented. The agreement, however, will be negotiated under the watch of Jeff Sessions, if he is confirmed as the Trump administration's Attorney General.

Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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