DOJ’s Chicago report reveals unacceptable amount of violence, police brutality
In the final days of the Obama administration, the Department of Justice released an alarming report regarding the Chicago Police Department. The investigation took place over a year, and the findings were disturbing, to say the least.
The report found that “the Chicago Police Department (CPD) engages in a pattern or practice of using force, including deadly force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution…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.”
According to the report, CPD was also involved in racially discriminatory behavior, specifically: the “practice of unreasonable force falls heaviest on predominantly black and Latino neighborhoods.”
While these findings are extremely alarming, something important should be noted: they aren’t new and don’t come as a surprise. The people in these communities have been aware of these problems for some time. In fact, over the past year there has been national media coverage on these issues, as well.
In 2016, Chicago surpassed 600 homicides, which made it the deadliest year since 1997. And in specific instances of police violence, individuals were shot, beaten with batons, shocked with Tasers, handcuffed, and even left in rival gang neighborhoods by police.
These findings need to be taken seriously, and action needs to be taken immediately.
Across CPD, police officers should be required to assess their personal biases because sometimes people don’t even realize what instincts they are acting on. Police forces should make a more conscious effort to avoid force wherever possible.
The report suggests many of the officers in predominantly Black and Latino communities are poorly trained. There are plenty of actions that can be taken to fix such problems. Americans should expect trained police forces, which isn’t asking for something outrageous. It is actually a very basic expectation.
Both the DoJ and CPD have discussed measures they have planned to solve these problems, from creating a new accountability force to the use of body cameras.
But the real question is whether the new administration will actually follow through on these promises. Jeff Sessions, the new U.S. Attorney General, and President Trump openly deny police brutality. In fact, President Trump said that “police are the most mistreated people.” This mentality could really hinder much-needed improvement.
Regardless of the actions the new administration takes, we must continue to demand accountability and refuse to normalize instances of police brutality.
Fariha Jawed is an accounting and political science junior and can be reached at [email protected]