The US Justice Department said Friday that it has found reasonable cause to believe that the Chicago Police Department engages in a pattern or practice of using force, including deadly force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.
The Justice Department said it found that Chicago Police officers’ practices unnecessarily endanger themselves and result in unnecessary and avoidable uses of force. The pattern or practice results from systemic deficiencies in training and accountability, including the failure to train officers in de-escalation and the failure to conduct meaningful investigations of uses of force, the Department added.
The city of Chicago and the Justice Department have signed an agreement in principle to work together, with community input, to create a federal court-enforceable consent decree addressing the deficiencies found during the investigation.
“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.”
“The failures we identified in our findings – that we heard about from residents and officers alike — have deeply eroded community trust,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Civil Rights Division. “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.”
“The findings in our report, coupled with the City of Chicago and Police Department’s commitment to work together with us, are an historic turning point and a major step toward sustained change,” said U.S. Attorney Zachary T. Fardon of the Northern District of Illinois. “Implementing these findings is a necessary precursor to our long-term success in fighting violent crime in Chicago.”
On Dec. 7, 2015, Attorney General Lynch announced the investigation into the Chicago Police Department and the city’s Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA). The investigation focused on the Chicago Police Department’s use of force, including racial, ethnic and other disparities in use of force, and its systems of accountability.