A disturbing report on the Chicago Police Department (CPD) has revealed that the city’s law enforcement is plagued by racism, and widespread changes need to be made in order for trust to be restored in the community.
According to USA Today, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel assembled a panel in November to assess racist actions on behalf of the city’s police officers. The panel, known as the Chicago Accountability Task Force, called on the CPD to “acknowledge its racist history and overhaul its handling of excessive force allegations.”
The task force was created shortly after the court-ordered release of a video showing the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. McDonald, an African-American, was shot 16 times by a white officer on a city street in 2014.
A wide range of statistics were included in the report to quantify the CPD’s purported racial bias. The task force found that 74% of people killed or injured by the CPD since 2008 were African-American. In 2014, approximately 72% of all people stopped and questioned by Chicago police were black.
“Some people do not feel safe in any encounter with the police,” the report said. “Some do not feel like they have the ability to walk in their neighborhoods or drive in their cars without being aggressively confronted by the police.”
Furthermore, the task force made it clear that African-Americans are not the only ones that have complained about the blatant mistreatment of blacks in Chicago.
“The consistent theme of these deeply held beliefs came from a significant cross-section of people: men and women, young, middle-aged and older, doctors, lawyers, teachers and other professionals, students, and everyday workers,” the report continued.
National statistics show soma that 52% of American men will be arrested at least once in their lifetime, but these numbers are disproportionately higher among African-Americans. The issue is particularly pervasive in Chicago, despite only 33% of the city’s residents being African-American.
As the Huffington Post recently reported, nearly 49% of African-American men have been arrested by the age of 23, “which can hurt their ability to find work, go to school and participate fully in their communities.” This is in stark contrast to the 40% of Caucasian men that have been arrested by that same age.
Though the task force did acknowledge that this racial bias is not present in all of the city’s police officers, it claims the CPD has a tendency to neglect unbiased officers while continuing to support those with ulterior motives.
“Overall, we found that good police are not supported or rewarded, while too many bad police are given a pass,” said Lori Lightfoot, chairwoman of the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force.
“Red flags about officers heading down the wrong path are not quickly and aggressively addressed, as they should be. And officers can go from the training academy to retirement with virtually no mandatory training in between,” Lightfoot added.
Mayor Emanuel’s administration has already started making substantial changes to the city’s law enforcement practices. In fact, the report was released on the same day that Eddie Johnson, an African-American police officer, was named as the new superintendent of the CPD.
Despite this progress, it will likely take several years before Chicagoans of all races and genders fully trust their police officers once again.