A video released last year showing Chicago police officers shooting a 17-year-old 16 times has continually raised questions about the actions of Chicago police and spurned thousands of Chicagoans to take to the streets to protest against police misconduct. As a result of the public outcry that the video has caused, Chicago’s mayor last year set up a Police Accountability Task Force to issue a report on how reforms can be instituted that will reduce instances of police misconduct and hold officers who do violate the civil rights of suspects accountable for their actions.
Earlier this month, a near-final draft of the report was released to Chicago media. Its findings are both deeply disturbing about the department’s current state of affairs, yet optimistic about how it can be improved.
Report Finds Long History of Chicago Police Misconduct
The report characterizes recent protests against police misconduct not as a reaction to the release of a single video, but as the final result of decades of forced confessions, physical, and verbal abuse that police officers have directed against minority suspects in Chicago. Despite years of complaints about these incidents, the city has done little to rein in the abuses of some police officers.
Task Force Recommends Civilian Oversight of Chicago Police
So how can the city of Chicago fix a badly broken police department? According to task force’s report, the first step is to disband the department’s Independent Police Review Authority, a badly funded and understaffed agency that is responsible for investigating misconduct of Chicago police officers. Yet despite this organization’s important function, the task force found that in recent years IPRA hasn’t even been able to fully investigate 40 percent of the complaints that come before it. And there is no system in place to hold IPRA accountable for its decisions.
The task force recommends that the city of Chicago replace IPRA with a transparent Civilian Police Investigative Agency that can better investigate complaints of police misconduct. The report also criticizes the city’s current collective bargaining agreement with the police department, which, in tandem with state law, bars anonymous complaints about officers and requires signed affidavits to pursue claims of misconduct.
Time will tell whether the city of Chicago takes action to implement the recommendations of the task force, but overhauling IPRA and the department’s collective bargaining agreement would be welcome steps toward remedying Chicago’s rampant police misconduct problem.
Need Legal Help?
The results of the Police Accountability Task Force’s report show that there are serious problems with how the Chicago Police Department treats many suspects, and how allegations of police misconduct are handled. In many cases, the only way for a suspect to protect his civil rights and receive compensation for injuries sustained while in police custody is to file a civil rights lawsuit. An experienced civil rights attorney can help you pursue your case against the Chicago Police Department. For more information, contact the Chicago offices of Barney & Hourihane today for a consultation.
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