Justice Department to Announce Results of Its Probe of Chicago Police on Friday


The U.S. Department of Justice plans to announce Friday the results of its 13-month investigation into the Chicago Police Department and its use of force, sources with knowledge of the investigation told the Tribune.

Attorney General Loretta Lynch will make the announcement, according to sources, but the details were still being worked out Wednesday.

The federal investigation was launched more than a year ago in the fallout over the court-ordered release of video showing the fatal shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald.

In announcing the investigation in December 2015, Lynch said the probe would focus on the Police Department’s use of force – including whether there were racial, ethnic and other disparities in how force was used. She also said the department would look into the police system of accountability.

Speaking to the City Club of Chicago in September, U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon said the investigation had grown into the largest such probe ever undertaken by federal authorities and was proceeding at a “record pace.”

Fardon said investigators have done a “deep dive,” analyzing “tons of data,” interviewing hundreds of people, conducting ride-alongs with officers and studying police policies.

The Tribune reported last week that the Justice Department sped up its timeline to get the report done before Democratic President Barack Obama hands over the White House on Jan. 20 to President-elect Donald Trump – a tough-on-crime, pro-police Republican.

Trump’s pick for Attorney General, Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, is a longtime law enforcement advocate who has been critical of civil rights investigations that paint police wrongdoing with a broad brush.

At his Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday, Sessions said federal litigation against police departments “can undermine respect for police officers. … We need to be careful before we do that.”

“I think there’s concern that good police officers and good departments can be sued by the Department of Justice when you just have individuals within a department who have done wrong, and those individuals need to be prosecuted,” Sessions said. “Filing a lawsuit against a police department can have ramifications sometimes beyond what a lot of people think.”

Meanwhile, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has tried to get ahead of whatever findings the report makes. Last week, he said he would continue his efforts to reform the Chicago Police Department, no matter the outcome of the civil rights probe.

“Our work is not done,” Emanuel said, referring to police training, technology and oversight changes made in the past year. “We’ve made, I think, the right decision to make the necessary changes, and while they may be rushing to finish their job, we are going to continue to do our job to make the right changes that are in our interest to provide the public safety throughout the city of Chicago.”

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Source: Chicago Tribune | Jason Meisner