The U.S. Department of Justice has ascertained that the Chicago police showed racial bias and a pattern of “excessive use of force.”
After a year-long scrutiny into the police force, a scathing report released on Friday found serious civil rights abuses.
The inquiry in 2015 was launched after a dashcam video was released which showed a white officer shooting black teenager Laquan McDonald.
The city has agreed to start negotiations on a consent decree to guide reform.
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that Chicago would work with the Department of Justice on a consent decree, and public trust will be restored after the decree would commit the city to cleaning reforms within the police department.
The investigation which lasted 13 months found that improper training was one of the leading causes of civil rights violations.
The report also concluded that the city lacked community policing and the support needed by the officers was also not provided.
The U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch was speaking at a news conference:
“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.”
She also added that the groundwork suggested in the report was difficult but imperative to make a safer, stronger, and united Chicago for the residents.
The court ordered the nation’s third largest police department to release dashcam video showing Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting Mr. McDonald.
The city attempted to keep the video away from the general public, but the 2014 video of the 17-years-old’s death was finally released when the police department came under fire in 2015. It showed Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting Mr. McDonald 16 times. The video enraged the African American community, and nation in general over excessive use of force by the police, especially against African Americans. The video also sparked heated protests nationwide.
Mr. Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder in 2015 and is currently facing trial.
Vanita Gupta, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, who leads the civil rights division of the Department of Justice added that the investigation had found Chicago officers shooting people who didn’t present any clear danger.
Chicago is one of the many cities which has undergone federal civil rights probe during the Obama administration. The current administration has made police reform a priority amid rising racial tensions across the country.
The DOJ has conducted 25 such investigations in cities rife with police brutality allegations including Missouri, Baltimore, Ferguson, and Cleveland.
Baltimore officials announced earlier this week that the city had reached a consent decree with the Justice Department which requires police to make changes to its practices.
It’s still unclear whether the incoming President Trump would allow the Justice Department’s probing into police departments. The President-elect has advocated for aggressive policing.
Mr. Trump’s nominee for Attorney General, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, stated at his Senate confirmation hearing that such inquiries could “undermine respect for police officers.”