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DOJ Finds Pattern Of Constitutional Abuse In 'Historic' Report On Chicago Police

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jan 13, 2017 5:05PM

Photo: Aaron Cynic

The Department of Justice on Friday morning announced its bombshell findings and recommendations from a historic" investigation into the Chicago Police Department. As expected from reports earlier in the week, the DOJ’s yearlong probe determined that the Chicago Police Department has engaged in a pattern or practice of using force—including use of deadly force—that violates the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.

The findings are significant and sweeping. Importantly, the city of Chicago and the Department of Justice signed an agreement in principle to pursue a federal consent degree to tackle the report's findings. Further community input and officer interviews will be undertaken as a consent degree moves forward.

Related: Read DOJ's Upsetting Findings From Its Sweeping Chicago Police Investigation Here.

The report says there's an erosion of trust between police and communities, mainly due to a failure of accountability in how the Chicago Police Department handles use of force and trains officers—particularly in relation to use of de-escalation. A lack of community-oriented, CAPS-style policing strategies and officer support have also contributed to the systemic failures.

“One of my highest priorities as Attorney General has been to ensure that every American enjoys police protection that is lawful, responsive, and transparent,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. “Sadly, our thorough investigation into the Chicago Police Department found that far too many residents of this proud city have not received that kind of policing. 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.”

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division, noted that even though the report was damning, they offered "opportunity."

“The failures we identified in our findings—that we heard about from residents and officers alike — have deeply eroded community trust,” said Gupta. “But today is a moment of opportunity, where we begin to move from identifying problems to developing solutions. I know our findings can lead to reform and rebuild community-police trust because we’ve seen it happen in community after community around the country over the past 20 years.”

U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon called the findings "historic." Today, "history is made, and it couldn’t come at a more important time," he said, adding that CPD abuses are “long-standing” and prior attempts at reform “have not gotten the job done.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel walked a fine line between acknowledging the severity of the report while supporting positive police practices. “Police misconduct will not be tolerated," Emanuel said, adding that “any wrongdoing” can be solved by what police officers are doing right.

“Quite simply, as a department, we need to do better," said CPD Superintendent Eddie Johnson, who called the report "difficult to read" and specifically noted the department's failure when it comes to de-escalation.