Feds: Excessive force issue for Chicago PD
By MICHAEL TARM
CHICAGO — The Justice Department released the findings of its yearlong investigation into civil rights abuses by the Chicago Police Department going back years.
The report found that the department has been violating people’s constitutional rights for years, emphasizing the use of excessive force and the killing of people who didn’t pose a threat.
The federal agency and city officials will start negotiations on reforms to the Police Department. The talks will happen after President-elect Donald Trump has taken office, and his attorney general nominee, Sen. Jeff Sessions, has expressed concerns about the handling of such cases by the Justice Department under President Barack Obama’s administration.
Here’s a look at what’s in the report and what could happen next:
The report’s main finding is that Chicago’s police force has displayed a long-standing pattern of using excessive force. It says some officers resort to force so quickly that it “results in fear and distrust from many of the people whom the police are committed to protect.”
The report mentions the 2014 police shooting of Laquan McDonald, a black teenager who was shot 16 times by a white officer.
Dashcam video of the shooting released under a court order more than a year later showed McDonald was walking slowly away from officers holding a small, folded knife when he was shot. It provoked widespread outrage and led to the Justice Department investigation.
The report also decried an apparent inability or unwillingness to hold officers accountable.
It said investigators reviewed more than 30,000 complaints of police misconduct during the five years before the probe began. Officers were found to be at fault in less than 2 percent of the cases.
The report blames, among other things, woefully inadequate training in the use of force for officers and aspiring officers.
Investigators observed one police academy class viewing a video produced 35 years ago — before key U.S. Supreme Court rulings on when it is reasonable to use force. And when instructors spoke further on the topic, several recruits didn’t appear to be paying attention and at least one was asleep, the report states.