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« on: August 24, 2018, 09:08:20 pm »

CHICAGO, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has concluded that there is reasonable cause to believe that the Chicago Police Department engages in a pattern or practice of use of excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.

"Our investigation found that this pattern of practice is in no small part the result of severely deficient training procedures and accountability systems," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said at a press conference held in Chicago on Friday.

Lynch announced in December 2015 to launch an investigation on whether the Chicago Police Department engaged in a pattern of constitutional violations or violated federal statutory law regarding law enforcement. Over the past 13 months, the DOJ has conducted hundreds of interviews with citizens, officials and officers, reviewed thousands of pages of documents, and observed officers on the job. Now the conclusion is announced.

The report states that use of excessive and deadly force were evident in cases of officers shooting at fleeing suspects who posed no immediate threat, shooting at vehicles without justification, using excessive force as retaliation or punishment, and using excessive force against juveniles.

Other scenarios highlighted in the report show training reform inside the Chicago Police Department is needed, such as de-escalation and crisis intervention tactics, policies on the use of deadly force, and accurate internal documentation of cases reviewing officers' use of force.

"I want to be clear: the Chicago Police Department, the City of Chicago, is already on the road to reform and there are no U-turns on that road," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said during the press conference.

"As noted in the report, we have already improved and expanded de-escalation training and we're upgrading our use of force policies. We're providing every officer with body cameras and tasers. We've expanded recruitment efforts to ensure that the department draws from all communities that make up this great city," Emanuel said.

Emanuel came under public scrutiny in 2016 with the handling of the fatal shooting of Laquan MacDonald, an African-American youth, by a police officer. Officers attempted to cover the misuse of deadly force by allegedly deleting video evidence and falsifying information on the official police reports. Many called for Emanuel to resign among the other officials' resignations over the incident.

The systematic deficiencies described in the report also affect the department's accountability. The DOJ's investigation found that the city fails to investigate many of the cases it is required to investigate by law. During these investigations, officers questioned often give biased information favorable to the officers under investigation that is sometimes inconsistent with physical evidence.

The investigation also found that discipline for violations does not deter misconduct within the police department, and that promotions are often unfair and politically motivated. Failure to address racial discrimination among officers, which the investigation can trace to deficiencies in training, supervision, and accountability, is also cited as a major issue in the report.

"We are invigorating our entire training operation, which will include modernized curriculum, and the creation of a state-of-the-art training facility," said Chicago Police Department Superintendent Eddie Johnson.

"We are going to continue to enhance transparency by equipping every officer on regular beat patrol with a body-worn camera by the end of the year. We will forge meaningful partnerships with the public by launching new community policing pilot programs before the Spring."

Among these changes in training are partnership programs between police recruits and teenagers in high-violence communities to build cooperation and perspective between the community and police department.

"What the findings in their report say to me is that we, CPD, need to do a much better job at mentoring, supporting, and training our police officers. It's what they deserve for putting their lives on the line for us, and that's what the city deserves when we ask for its trust," Johnson said.

The U.S. Department of Justice will continue to supervise the Chicago Police Department as they put these new changes into effect. The City of Chicago is hoping to see the damaged relationships between the police department and communities repaired with these new policies, and a decrease in the recent surge in violent crime as a result.

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