Police respond to emergency calls in white neighborhoods faster than they do to those in neighborhoods with high minority populations, a lawsuit filed Thursday alleges.
The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Central Austin Neighborhood Association, challenges the way the Chicago Police Department deploys its officers.
"This disparity has been going on for many, many years. We want it to be addressed now. We think that it requires judicial review in order to get a remedy," said Harvey Grossman, the ACLU of Illinois' legal director.
The groups say published reports in the Chicago Sun-Times and the Chicago News Cooperative have finally given it the police deployment data that the department has been fighting to keep secret. In particular, the civil rights group says the most recent redeployments under Supt. Garry McCarthy have done little good.
"Over the past several years I have personally and repeatedly dialed 911 to report illegal activity outside our home, on our block and in our community," said CANA member Ron Reid, who lives fewer than two blocks away from a police station. "Time and again, we call the police and they rarely respond."
The suit claims the city is in violation of the Illinois Civil Rights Act of 2003, which makes government accountable for racially disparate impacts because of its policies.
"We have applied more resources to the areas that need them, and we're not done, and we're constantly taking a fresh look, and it's not static," he said.
Emanuel said the ACLU suit isn't giving the department enough time for the changes to be felt.
At a City Council budget hearing, McCarthy said the department must function at a high, more efficient level and said computer analysis is working to help him target resources where they're needed.
"We are working with the resources we have to keep this city safe and over the past three months we have proven that we can do a great deal with what we have," he said.
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