‘Racist’ Chicago PD officer to receive no punishment for misconduct – report

© Jim Young
The Chicago Police Department is plagued by racism and structural flaws, which led to a loss in public trust that kicked off a wave of social outrage, a task force found. Over 100 sweeping reforms have been recommended by the blue-ribbon panel.

The Chicago Police Accountability Task Force, appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, has issued a scathing report with details highlighting key problems of the CPD that eroded the trust between the department and the community.

The shocking statistics in the study reveal that in Chicago, which is almost evenly split in population between whites, blacks and Hispanics, African-Americans are disproportionately targeted by local law enforcements.

“Racism and maltreatment at the hands of the police have been consistent complaints from communities of color for decades,” the panel said.

The panel found that in 404 shootings that involved the CPD over the last eight years, and 74 percent of the 299 individuals either hit or killed by officers were blacks. Meanwhile, 8 percent were white.

“CPD’s own data gives validity to the widely held belief the police have no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color,” the Task Force said.

The same imbalance was evident when it came to police Taser use. Of the 1,886 cases between 2012 and 2015, CPD officers targeted blacks “at a very high rate.” African-Americans were the subjects 76 percent of time, or in 1,435 cases. Whites, however, made up 8 percent.

Black drivers also were 46 percent of police traffic stops in 2013, a year when CPD pulled over whites 27 percent of the time.

Notably, it appeared that officers searched black and Hispanic drivers four times as often as whites. However, it was white drivers who had contraband twice as often as blacks and Hispanics, CPD’s own data showed.

“Beyond the use of force with guns and tasers, CPD’s dependence on investigatory stops as an essential part of its policing strategy has only served to worsen already fractured community relations,” the task force concluded.

With that being said, the task force pointed out that “Chicago’s police accountability system is broken.”

There are legal and practical barriers that prevent the system from identifying potential misconduct, investigating it and imposing discipline when needed.

“The collective bargaining agreements between the police unions and the City have essentially turned the code of silence into official policy,” the report concluded.

The task force has made more than 100 specific recommendations for change, calling on the mayor and the city council to take action.

"The City and in particular CPD would do well to embrace the necessary changes to address the systemic problems in CPD and not simply hope that this storm will pass," the report said. "It will not, and ignoring this opportunity will exacerbate an already volatile set of circumstances."

The release of the report is even more significant as it comes on the same day the council voted to make Eddie Johnson, an African-American and 27-year veteran of the department, Chicago's top cop.

He was appointed by Emanuel as interim superintendent in March, after the mayor rejected a list of 39 applicants recommended for the position by the Chicago Police Board.

Emanuel created the task force late last year after the court-ordered release of police video showing a white police officer firing 16 shots into 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, who was black, on a city street. The video’s release kicked off a wave of a public outrage.