Statement on Release of Department of Justice findings on Chicago Police Department

Affiliate: ACLU of Illinois
January 13, 2017 12:30 pm

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The following is the statement of ACLU of Illinois Police Practice Project Director Karen Sheley regarding the release of the Department of Justice findings on the Chicago Police Department:

The report issued today by the U. S. Department of Justice confirms what many residents of Chicago have known for years – the system for policing in our City is broken. There can be no debate that it is past time for fundamental reform within Chicago Police Department.

The report is an indictment of policing in Chicago, from how police behave on the streets of the City to how police are managed. Segregation in Chicago magnifies the impact of these policies on communities of color. Black and Latino Chicagoans face the worst of police misconduct, disproportionately experiencing unconstitutional behavior like excessive use of force. Out of date polices and lack of training result in harm for people with disabilities, especially related to mental health, and transgender people.

These findings are not new. The ACLU and other advocates have pointed out bad policing practices for decades, only to see calls for reform neglected and problems become ingrained after decades of acceptance. The department does not sufficiently train and or supervise officers. It also fails to discipline or terminate officers who violate basic norms. And too often, officers who violate the constitution are protected by a code of silence, indicating the police department values protecting their own more than the lives and rights of Chicago residents. These bad practices sabotage good police-community relations and undermine good officers who want to work in a functioning police department.

Today must be a wake-up call to change how Chicago is policed. There can be no more tinkering around the edges. It is time for fundamental reform, grounded in ongoing court oversight and independent monitoring. To date, the city has failed to sign a consent decree with the Department of Justice. Such a decree would ensure that a federal judge would oversee the reform that the report shows is critical. Given the Trump administration’s announced resistance to police reform, we call on the City to enter an agreement with the Department of Justice now.

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