Chicago Police Department plagued by racism, lack of accountability, task force says

Thursday, April 14, 2016
Scathing report identifies problems in CPD
A scathing new report outlines big problems in the Chicago Police Department - racism, excessive force and a code of silence - and that's not all.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A scathing new report outlines big problems in the Chicago Police Department - racism, excessive force and a code of silence - and that's not all. The Independent Police Review Authority - the organization assigned to investigate police - is described as badly broken.

READ: Police Accountability Task Force's full 190-page report

READ: Police Accountability Task Force's 18-page executive summary

The full report was released the same day Eddie Johnson was sworn in as Chicago's new top cop. Johnson said his goal is to root out racism in the department.

A scathing report by the Police Accountability Task Force concludes racism and accountability are a plague in the Chicago Police Department.

The mayor's hand-picked police accountability task force was formed in response to widespread outrage following the Laquan McDonald shooting. But the panel found the Chicago Police Department's problems were decades in the making.

"One of the consistent themes we heard from people all across the city was that they feel like the police do not respect their humanity," Lightfoot said.

As ABC7 reported Tuesday night, the task force found African-Americans are targeted for tougher treatment. Blacks account for nearly three-in-four people stopped by police and killed and injured by officers.

Oversight is grossly inadequate, said the task force, which recommends the Independent Police Review Authority be replaced with a new civilian agency.

"It needs to be more transparent. It needs to be more serious about the way it approaches investigations," said Sergio Acosta, Police Accountability Task Force.

And the panel said police are unable to police themselves after finding that CPD had for years failed to track complaints and identify problem officers.

The report recommends changes to the union contract, including a provision allowing officers 24 hours to give a statement after a shooting.

"We do believe the collective bargaining agreements themselves help institutionalize the code of silence," said Maurice Classen, Police Accountability Task Force.

"It's easy to point fingers, and because we are the union that protects police officers, we're the bad guy. I don't agree with that at all," said Dean Angelo, president, Fraternal Order of Police.

The report was presented to Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday.

"The question isn't, 'Do we have racism?' We do. The question is, 'What are you going to do about it?'" Emanuel said.

"This mayor has an opportunity to try to get his hand back on the gavel of this city," said Rev. Ira Acree, Greater St. John Bible Church.

Emanuel did not indicate what actions he might take in the wake of the report's release. The report comes as the U.S. Justice Department continues its civil rights investigation of the Chicago Police Department.

Darron Cannon, a victim of police torture, says he agrees with the report?s findings and despite his mistreatment, he is hopeful.


For some, the task force was stating the obvious: that racism existed and exists at the Chicago Police Department. While many are eager to move past this painful point in our history, acknowledging the reality is a step toward healing and real change.

"It's long overdue," said Darrell Cannon, who was among those tortured by Jon Burge and his police officers. Cannon served 24 years for a crime he did not commit, and during that time, he lost his father, mother, grandmother and son. He says he agrees with the report's findings and despite his mistreatment, he is hopeful.

"For this committee to make such a recommendation gives hope that maybe we can start changing things here in the city of Chicago," Cannon said.

Cannon suggests that not only civilians take part in oversight of police misconduct investigations, but he would like to see some of the victims of police abuse to take part in any oversight.

"It's not just African Americans, it's not just Hispanics, it's not just women. But these are things that we're all going to have to address. And they can't turn a blind eye on it," said Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th Ward).

"Honestly, confront the past. Second, make the necessary changes so people have confidence in the oversight. I think we can have a stronger future," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said.

Locke Bowman with the MacArthur Justice Center was part of a working group offering insight about police oversight to the task force.

"The failed oversight system is at the heart of our problems with policing in Chicago. That failed system allows repeat offenders to remain on the streets," Bowman said.

Trina Reynolds-Tyler with Black Youth Project 100 has advocated for more resources to communities and less funding of police.

"I think it's important that we stay vigilant and that we are continuously critical of what these sweeping reforms will look like," Reynolds-Tyler said.

The current head of the Independent Police Review Authority wanted to read the entire report before offering any comment.