Apr 13 2016

Who’d A Thunk?

Chicago Police Dept. Plagued by Systemic Racism, Task Force Finds
APRIL 13, 2016

Racism has contributed to a long, systemic pattern of institutional failures by this city’s police department in which police officers have mistreated people, operated without sufficient oversight, and lost the trust of residents, a task force assigned by Mayor Rahm Emanuel has found.

“The community’s lack of trust in CPD is justified,” the task force wrote. “There is substantial evidence that people of color — particularly African-Americans — have had disproportionately negative experiences with the police over an extended period of time.”

The report gives validation to complaints made for years by African-American residents here who have said they were unfairly targeted by officers without justification on a regular basis. It raises the pressure on Mr. Emanuel and other Chicago leaders to make significant changes at a pivotal time for the nation’s second largest municipal police force, which has been under intense fire from residents and under scrutiny from the federal authorities. It includes more than 100 recommendations for change.

The task force amassed data that shows the extent to which African-Americans appear to have been targeted. In a city where whites, blacks and Hispanics each make up about one-third of the population, 74 percent of the 404 people shot by the Chicago police between 2008 and 2015 were black, the report said. Black people were targeted in 72 percent of thousands of investigative street stops that did not lead to arrests during a recent summer.

Three out of four — 76 percent — of people on whom Chicago police officers used Taser guns between 2012 and 2015 were black. And black people made up 46 percent of police traffic stops in 2013.

“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,” according to the report, a draft summary of which was first reported in The Chicago Tribune on Tuesday afternoon. “Stopped without justification, verbally and physically abused, and in some instances arrested, and then detained without counsel — that is what we heard about over and over again,” the task force wrote.

On Wednesday, before the report was released, Mr. Emanuel said he had not yet seen it, but that his “general attitude” was to be “open to look at everything they say.”

Mr. Emanuel said he was not surprised by the suggestion of racism, and that he wanted to work through those issues.

“I don’t really think you need a task force to know that we have racism in America, we have racism in Illinois or that there’s racism that exists in the city of Chicago and obviously could be in our department,” Mr. Emanuel said.

He added: “The question is: ‘what are we going to do to confront it and make the changes in not only personnel but in policies to reflect, I think, the values that make up the diversity of our city.’”

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