Chicago Must Take Up Police Reforms in DOJ Report

For immediate release
January 13, 2017

After a yearlong investigation into the patterns and practices of the Chicago Police Department (CPD), the US Department of Justice (DOJ) has released its report confirming what we have known for decades: Police officers routinely violate the constitutional rights of Chicago residents and are rarely held accountable. Among its findings, the report concludes:

  • CPD officers engage in a pattern or practice of using force, including deadly force that is unreasonable, in violation of the fourth amendment.
  • The City does not investigate the majority of cases it is required by law to investigate.
  • There is a failure to adequately address racially discriminatory conduct by officers—which in some respects is caused by deficiencies in CPD’s systems of training, supervision and accountability.

While the DOJ’s findings are not surprising, the report is a stark reminder that these issues persist despite years of advocates, including Community Renewal Society, calling for reform. Generations of City leaders have known about these problems and communities have long demanded solutions. The only question now is what our current leaders are willing to do to finally create true police accountability in Chicago.

The DOJ has spearheaded local police reform efforts around the country but President-elect Donald Trump has called police misconduct a local issue. His nominee for Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, has been a vocal critic of DOJ’s approach and has a record that demonstrates open hostility to civil rights enforcement. In the likely absence of DOJ leadership on these issues, Chicago must take ownership of these critical reforms.

It will be up to local civic leaders, elected officials, and community organizations to take up the recommendations and solutions that our city requires to ensure that the Chicago Police Department end its systemic violations. The combined recommendations of the DOJ and of the Police Accountability Task Force provide city officials and civic leaders a detailed blueprint to restore trust and public safety in our city. We believe that meaningful reforms can be implemented by creating a strong community oversight board and by eliminating provisions in the city’s police union contracts that inhibit real accountability.

“As people of faith, we call on Mayor Emmanuel, the City Council and Superintendent Johnson to implement the reforms needed to create real police accountability and restore public trust with or without a consent decree by the Department of Justice.  Implementing significant reforms is the only right and moral response to the DOJ’s troubling report.” 

--Rev. Curtiss DeYoung, Executive Director, Community Renewal Society

The Police Accountability Collaborative, a group of civil rights organizations and policy groups, has come together to press for local ownership of this process. Community Renewal Society is proud to join The Collaborative and invites other partner organizations and community groups to work together to create a vision of Chicago known throughout its neighborhoods for its fair and effective public safety system.

Please go to www.chicagopoliceaccountability.org to learn more about The Collaborative and sign up to receive news and updates.

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