Politicians React to Justice Department's Report on Chicago Police

After the Department of Justice announced an investigation into the Chicago Police Department found a pattern of civil rights violations, reactions from across the city and state started to pour in.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson stood at the side of Attorney General Loretta Lynch as she announced the "serious problems" found within the department. 

"While the Chicago Police Department has made real progress and achieved meaningful reforms, the incidents described in this report are sobering to all of us," Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. 

His statements were echoed by Johnson who vowed the department would "do better."

"What the findings in their report say to me is that we need to do a much better job at mentoring, supporting, and training our police officers - it’s what they deserve for putting their lives on the line for us and what the city deserves when we ask for its trust," Johnson said. "Quite simply, as a department, we need to do better. And you have my promise and commitment that we will do better."

US Attorney Zach Fardon, who also spoke during the Department of Justice announcement, called the findings "an historic turning point and a major step toward sustained change."

Other statements from Illinois officials include:

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle

"While I want to reserve full judgment on the findings until my staff has a chance to completely digest the report, I have long felt that policing in Chicago is in desperate need of a reset. It has been clear to me for many years that residents in communities of color are policed far differently than communities with a preponderance of white residents. Such a strategy can only result in distrust between police and residents of these black and brown communities. The Justice Department report hopefully will put us on a path to honestly address critical issues in the relationship between police and residents, and allow us to confront the very real issues of crime and violence that plague too many of our communities."

Congresswoman Robin Kelly

“Today’s report is deeply concerning. It is clear that more reforms are needed and needed immediately. We all agree that law enforcement has a difficult job. The vast majority of officers are drawn to law enforcement because they care deeply about their community and want to serve and protect it. However, we cannot ignore the small, but real minority who actively use their position of authority to violate the rights and safety of others. While the city has already taken steps to address these issues, many more reforms are needed. We simply cannot allow this level of disregard for citizens and their Constitutional rights to continue."

Senator Tammy Duckworth

“Attorney General Lynch confirmed today in troubling detail that the Chicago Police Department has deprived Chicagoans of their constitutional rights and engaged in patterns of racial bias and excessive--even needless--use of force far too frequently for far too long. I appreciate the Department of Justice’s confirmation that the city has made important progress over the last year on several meaningful reforms like equipping more officers with body cameras and improving de-escalation training so officers can better recognize the difference between mental health emergencies and criminal situations. Today’s report is a necessary step to help repair the frayed relationship between Chicago’s law enforcement officials and the communities they are sworn to protect, but the systemic failures within the Chicago Police Department cannot be solved in a day, a month or even a year. Regaining the people’s trust will take time, and the city and federal government must work together to rebuild the strong community relationships every police force needs to effectively protect and defend its citizens...Countless police officers put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe, and we should all recognize the good work the vast majority of them do under difficult circumstances. I hope the next Administration will support and continue the collaborative efforts announced today to enable these officers to regain the trust broken by bad actors and ensure all Chicagoans receive equal protection under the law.”

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin

“Following the shocking video of the shooting death of Laquan McDonald, I wrote Attorney General Lynch urging her to open an investigation into whether the Chicago Police Department was engaged in a pattern or practice of violating constitutional and civil rights. The Justice Department’s findings are challenging, revealing serious problems that must be swiftly and responsibly addressed in order to restore trust between the police and the communities they serve. I commend Attorney General Lynch, Mayor Emanuel, and Superintendent Johnson for accepting the challenge of identifying and committing to solve these problems, and for the important changes that have already been made in recent months. I also greatly appreciate the efforts of the career Justice Department and Chicago Police Department officials who worked together cooperatively throughout this investigation and will now be charged with implementing further reforms to address the investigation’s findings."

Congressman Bobby Rush

“At the conclusion of a 13 month long U.S. Department of Justice investigation, (the largest and longest of a police department in Justice Department history), report findings were issued that reveal scathing, disturbing, and completely unacceptable patterns of unconstitutional policing as executed by the Chicago Police Department against the very citizens they are sworn to protect. Shooting at vehicles without justification; using force to retaliate against and punish individuals; and failing to deescalate situations, all without predictable, timely, and transparent discipline are just a few examples of the outrageous practices outlined in the report. In spite of these disturbing findings, the citizens of Chicago are only left with platitudes, promises, and politics from the Mayor, the Chicago Police Department, and the Justice Department. Their announcement of intent to sign an agreement to work together on a consent decree is thoroughly inadequate and insulting because at the conclusion, we are left with no consent decree in place. I found the Mayor’s remarks and those of the Superintendent to be weak regarding the consent decree. This way of responding to unearthed and unveiled corrupt patterns and practices is the Chicago way but that simply does not work and does not match up with the extraordinary circumstances made plan by the report. Just like the city of Baltimore, we must have a consent decree now. One that puts the leadership and oversight of CPD squarely in the hands of the courts. That is why over the next few days, I will convene a series of meetings with some of the city’s top constitutional lawyers to bring a case to court that will result in the Justice Department being ordered to institute a consent decree now."

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