The Justice Department is planning to launch an investigation into practices of the Chicago Police Department, according to law enforcement officials.
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch is currently reviewing requests for the investigation, and is expected to announce the investigation this week.
The review is expected to be a wide-ranging examination of the police department as a whole, spurred by the events surrounding the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald but not limited to that event alone. The investigation will examine whether Chicago police have engaged in a pattern or practice of violating the civil rights of residents, officials say.
In a statement, Anthony Guglielmi of Chicago Police News Affairs wrote “We will let the Department of Justice address what action they will or will not choose to take, but as was made clear last week, we welcome the engagement of the Department of Justice as we work to restore trust in our police department and improve our system of police accountability.”
The Justice Department is investigating the McDonald shooting, but a probe by the department’s civil rights division would be more broadly focused. Similar reviews were previously performed in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore.
Last week, in a letter to Lynch, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan asked the Department of Justice for an investigation into the practices of the department.
Madigan said an investigation by the U.S. DOJ Civil Rights Division “is necessary and appropriate, given its experience investigating the practices of police departments across the country and based on its experience prosecuting former Chicago Police Commander Jon Burge.”
Later in the week, Mayor Rahm Emanuel flip-flopped on his stance on the potential probe, issuing a statement on Thursday that he is now in support of such an investigation.
"Many things must happen to restore trust in the Chicago Police Department and I welcome efforts and ideas that can help us achieve that important goal," Mayor Emanuel said in the release. "I want to clarify my comments from yesterday and I want to be clear that the City welcomes engagement by the Department of Justice when it comes to looking at the systemic issues embedded in CPD."
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