Feds: Chicago cop training poor, misconduct investigations biased

(CHICAGO) The Justice Department’s probe of Chicago Police misconduct found the Independent Police Review Authority used biased techniques to investigate officers — and police received poor training at all levels, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

A review by the feds of more than 100 IPRA files revealed a consistent unwillingness to probe or dispute officers’ narratives, according to a source familiar with the DOJ’s findings. The report is also expected to point to specific use-of-force cases that revealed insufficient training in de-escalation techniques.

More broadly, the investigation found violations of the U.S. Constitution and federal law by officers when it comes to use of force, racial disparities as well as other systemic problems.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch is expected to appear in Chicago at the Dirksen Federal Courthouse Friday morning to announce the findings of the 13-month investigation of the Chicago Police Department. The Justice Department and City Hall have hammered out a pact, called a “statement of agreement,” which will detail remedies the city has already or will be taking to address problems that have ruptured relations between police and the people they serve, particularly minority communities.

It’s not known yet if that document will evolve into a more robust consent decree filed in federal court. The goal of the Justice Department is to help the city and federal government find ways to work together to improve trust.

With the Jan. 20 end of President Barack Obama’s term looming, Lynch wanted to wrap up police department probes in Baltimore and Chicago before her tenure ends. The first African-American female to lead the Justice Department has made a priority of improving police relations with the public.

The policing community has been bracing for days in anticipation of the report.

The attorney general will be accompanied by Vanita Gupta, head of the department’s civil-rights division. They will announce the results of the probe at a press conference alongside Mayor Rahm Emanuel and U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon, the top federal prosecutor in northern Illinois.

Lynch appeared in Baltimore on Thursday where police have committed to a sweeping overhaul of its practices under a court-enforceable agreement known as a consent decree.

One police official with knowledge of the feds’ Chicago investigation said he and his colleagues weren’t expecting much from the report that will be released Friday. “Our best guess is, look at Baltimore and do a find-and-replace,” he said.

CPD brass expect the report to be critical of how police conducted street stops, the police official said. “They’re going to say we violated people’s Constitutional rights but they won’t have any specifics,” he predicted. “They’re going to say we stopped people without justification, but they won’t have any examples of that. So it’s almost impossible to respond to it. We’re not going to be able to defend ourselves, and then we’re going to be left with having to deal with this.”

He said the report is also likely to stress that the department needs to provide more and better training, to add supervisors and to improve the system for investigating police shootings — all of which Emanuel and police officials have already pledged to do.

“They’ve given us some feedback on use-of-force policy and body-camera policies, but in a very aloof way — ‘We don’t want to tell you what to do, but you might want to do this.’ We adjusted some things, mostly because it was best practices.

“They’re not likely to tell us anything we don’t already know. And they’re not likely to say, ‘We’re revealing something new for the whole world to see.’ It’s going to be short on facts and long on implications.”

President-elect Donald Trump and his pick for attorney general, Jeff Sessions, are seen as far friendlier to rank-and-file police than the Obama administration, and there is speculation that the White House will not be interested in pursuing reform in Chicago after Jan. 20.

The Baltimore agreement was announced nearly two years after the DOJ began their probe of the police department in May 2015, after the death of Freddie Gray set off riots and looting in the city. The DOJ issued a scathing findings report in August, and it has spent six months negotiating the consent decree that was announced Thursday.

The Chicago investigation is wrapping up 13 months after DOJ officials announced the start of the probe in December 2015, and one week before Inauguration Day.

— Chicago Sun-Times

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