A report by a police reform task force appointed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says that racism is at the root of many of the Chicago Police Department's failures over the years.
The Task Force heard over and over again from a range of voices, particularly from African-Americans, that some CPD officers are racist, have no respect for the lives and experiences of people of color and approach every encounter with people of color as if the person, regardless of age, gender or circumstance, is a criminal.
The task force was formed in the aftermath of the shooting death of teenager Laquan McDonald at the hands of Chicago police to look into how to restore trust between police and the communities they serve. But the task force's report is the first to acknowledge that the issue of racism among Chicago police goes back much further than McDonald's death.
Racism and maltreatment at the hands of the police have been consistent complaints from communities of color for decades. And there have been many significant flashpoints over the years—the killing of Fred Hampton (1960s), the Metcalfe hearings (1970s), federal court findings of a pattern and practice of discriminatory hiring (1970s), Jon Burge and his midnight crew (1970s to 1990s), widespread disorderly conduct arrests (1980s), the unconstitutional gang loitering ordinance (1990s), widespread use of investigatory stops and frisks (2000s) and other points. False arrests, coerced confessions and wrongful convictions are also a part of this history. Lives lost and countless more damaged.
The report cites police department data showing evidence of racism in the city's policing practices from the last few years. Of all people killed or injured in officer-involved shooting, 74% were black. When officers used tasers on suspects, 76% were black. 46% of traffic stops. 72% of street stops. So many black people are stopped by Chicago police that a 2015 survey of 1,200 residents found 70% of young black men surveyed had been stopped at some point in the last 12 months.
"CPD’s own data and other information strongly suggests that CDP’s response to the violence is not sufficiently imbued with Constitutional policing tactics and is also comparatively void of actual procedural and restorative justice in the day-to-day encounters between the police and citizens," the report states.
The panel issued a lengthy set of recommended reforms, including replacing the Independent Police Review Authority with a new Civilian Police Investigative Agency, as well as creating a dedicated Inspector General for Public Safety.
Emanuel has not commented on the report yet, but shortly before its release, he told the Chicago Tribune he would be open to the panel's recommendations.
"The question isn't, 'Do we have racism?' We do. The question is, 'What are you going to do about it?'" he said, according to the Tribune.