clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Justice Department finds Chicago police engage in pattern of "excessive force"

But there’s no guarantee DOJ enforcement orders will remain when AG Loretta Lynch is replaced by likely successor Jeff Sessions.

Jose Osorio // Chicago Tribune

This morning, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announced a Department of Justice finding that the Chicago police department had a "pattern of using excessive force," including "deadly force, which is unconstitutional," and targeting minorities as part of its practices.

The DOJ shared a 164-page report holding that the Chicago Police Department was 10 times more likely to use force against blacks than whites, due to improper training and leadership. To wit: The report found that only one in six recent graduates could properly articulate the standard for use of force.

These findings come from the DOJ's largest federal investigation into a police department, which began in December of 2015, shortly after the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. In addition to releasing a 161-page report and stating that there is "considerable work to be done," Lynch announced that Mayor Rahm Emmanuel and DOJ Civil Rights Division leader Vanita Gupta signed an agreement putting the Chicago police on track for a court enforceable order for independent oversight and systemic change.

The Justice Department has the authority to force police departments to implement changes and to sue to enforce, if necessary, by using a legal vehicle called a consent decree.

This comes on the heels of Lynch's announcement yesterday in Baltimore of an agreement to reform that police department's systemic racial bias. This caps a busy term for the Civil Rights Division; during the Obama Administration, the division has investigated 25 other police departments, finding patterns of excessive force in Portland, Cleveland, New Orleans, and Seattle, amongst others.

Given the impending end of Obama's administration, the DOJ may have rushed to finalize these decisions and agreements, as there is no guarantee of what will happen to the initiatives once the department is under the auspices of Attorney General Lynch's likely successor Jeff Sessions. Technically, Sessions would be under no obligation to enforce these consent decrees; in fact, he has criticized their use on police departments in the past.

REVOLT will be watching.

Sign up for the newsletter Join the revolution.

Get REVOLT updates weekly so you don’t miss a thing.