The U.S. Department of Justice recently concluded a 13 month long investigation into allegations of police misconduct and brutality in the Chicago Police Department. Their conclusion, according to U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch, is that the Chicago Police Department has been engaged in an illegal pattern of excessive force, especially when it came to minorities. Among the abuses committed, police shot at fleeing suspects that presented no immediate threat, shot at vehicles when there was no immediate threat, used tasers or other non-lethal force on suspects that presented no threat, used excessive force against juveniles, and used force to retaliate against, or punish people, in situations when it was not justified.
As Criminal Defense Attorneys, we have heard our client’s first-hand accounts of abuse they have suffered by overly aggressive police officers. It is gratifying to see that these accounts are now being taken seriously by the government. The Feds have forced the Chicago Police Department to take part in a “consent decree” to be supervised by a Federal Judge, which will introduce many changes into the way that our police are trained, and how they are allowed to act when enforcing the law. One of the changes in training will be specifically about teaching officers how to deescalate conflicts, rather than create or escalate them. This will be quite an institutional change, for as some may recall the peculiar words of our late, great, Mayor Richard J. Daley (The Boss), “The Chicago Police are not here to create disorder, they are here to preserve disorder.” They will also be hiring almost 1000 new officers in the coming months, and this will, in the words of Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, bring “new blood” to the department. Also, soon all officers will be required to wear, and properly use, body cameras that record every encounter they have.
Remember, officers may use reasonable force when necessary under the circumstances to effectuate an arrest, to prevent a crime, or to defend themselves, other persons or property. The level of force that may be reasonably used depends entirely upon the facts and circumstances at the moment. The problem that has been ongoing in Chicago is that the police have consistently exceeded the limits of reasonableness as cited by the Federal investigation, as well as an independent investigation commissioned by Mayor Emmanuel last year. Findings basically stated that the Chicago Police, as an institution, appear to have a reduced regard for African-Americans and other minorities. So, until the culture within the department changes for the better, until each and every officer has been trained to deescalate conflicts, resort to force only when absolutely necessary, and treat all persons equally regardless of their race, or other distinguishing traits, it is anybody’s guess as to how much longer the excessive force incidents will continue.
If you have been mistreated or injured by police officers, whether or not you have been arrested and charged with a crime, you do have certain rights and available civil remedies. If you believe that you, or someone you care about, have been harmed as a result of police misconduct or brutality, then you should consult with the experienced police brutality attorneys at the Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC. We offer an absolutely free, no obligation, initial consultation on all matters, at both our Arlington Heights and Chicago offices. Call today at (312) 644-0444 to get the help you need to vigorously pursue justice.