AP News Guide: Feds Begin Work on Chicago Police Probe

22 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Emanuel to meet with U.S. Justice Department Thursday to welcome CPD probe he once called “misguided”.

Rahm Emanuel, whose reputation as a tough and impatient dealmaker followed him from the White House to Chicago City Hall, is finding that governing a fractious city can be as challenging as convincing truculent Republican lawmakers to pass legislation—and, perhaps in the end, unachievable. Justice Department officials investigating the Chicago Police Department’s “patterns and practices will meet in Chicago starting Wednesday with Acting Chicago Police Superintendent John Escalante and his command staff. | File photo Mayor Rahm Emanuel will meet Thursday with the U.S. The city is weighed down with debt, billions in unfunded pension obligations, declining credit ratings, a police department often accused of using excessive force against African-Americans, a rising tide of murders, and a host of other troubles. And it is in our self-interest as a city that they’re here because the problems and the challenges we have in the sense of police and community relations and the changes that we need are deep-seeded.

They go way back,” the mayor said. “We we need a fresh set of eyes like the Department of Justice to help us make the changes to training, discipline, policy [and] oversight that we haven’t had in the past or the efforts we’ve made have never really gotten at the core of this issue.” Two weeks ago, Emanuel branded Il. The powerful video portrayed, with frank brutality, the October 2014 death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald at the hands of a police officer who shot the teenager 16 times. Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s call for a federal civil rights investigation to restore public trust “broken” by the police shooting of Laquan McDonald “misguided.” He argued that it made no sense to add “an additional layer” of investigation when the FBI and the U.S.

The video underscored the longtime tense relations between Chicago residents and police, but it was the timing of its release that drew protestors into the street. Attorney’s office in Chicago had not completed their investigation of the Laquan McDonald shooting that has already dragged on for more than a year. “They are doing a thorough job. Chicago’s top cop and the heads of agencies who police the police were all grilled by aldermen who themselves were feeling the heat over the use of deadly force. Aldermen introduced an ordinance requiring an annual four hour refresher course on the appropriate use of force, while also digging into the alleged code of silence.

Furthering these suspicions was the fact that the video only became public the same day that Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with murder in McDonald’s death. He said he “welcomed” a federal investigation of “systemic issues embedded in” the Police Department and said, “I own the confusion” about his earlier opposition to the probe.

The real reason the video was kept under lock and key, his critics claimed, was that Emanuel was battling a strong challenger for his mayoral reelection and did not want his campaign to be tainted by the kind of protests that had engulfed Ferguson, Mo. and other cities where police were accused of unnecessarily shooting civilians. Last week, an apology from Emanuel—who said, “I take responsibility for what happened, because it happened on my watch”—did little to quell protestors’ anger.

Senator Dick Durbin and just about every other political leader sided with Madigan and after it became clear that the Justice Department was coming whether the mayor liked it or not. Then, as if Emanuel’s administration wasn’t already besieged, the local teachers’ union announced this week that its members had overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike, which would put some 400,000 students out on the street. “Do not cut our schools, do not lay off educators or balance the budget on our backs,” said Jesse Sharkey, the union’s vice president, in announcing the results of the voting by the 27,000 teacher and staff members. The federal investigation is expected to focus on excessive force, the process of disciplining wayward officers and police interactions with minorities.

Some 88 percent of them endorsed the possibility of a strike as preliminary talks over teacher evaluations, salary increases, pension contributions, and standardized testing stalled after the expiration of the teachers’ contract last June. Worryingly for Emanuel’s administration, the union seems to be framing the dispute as a tradeoff between education and economic development, with Sharkey noting that, “We need to be asking why we’re spending on things like river walks when our schools aren’t funded.” He was referring to a $99 million overhaul of the Chicago Riverwalk, a path running along the Chicago River’s south bank in the middle of downtown. Daley’s former patronage chief, Streets and Sanitation commissioner and others convicted of rigging city hiring to benefit the Hispanic Democratic Organization and other pro-Daley armies of political workers. The Riverwalk, which Emanuel touts as a prime urban attraction, it is one of the steps his administration has taken to make Chicago more welcoming and economically viable.

The city’s 2012 draft plan to revitalize the local economy, “A Plan for Economic Growth and Jobs,” concluded that the city’s future rests on its ability to compete with other regions around the globe. The report noted that New York and Los Angeles grew four times faster than Chicago over the most recent decade as Chicago lagged behind in creating jobs and boosting income. Riverwalk is an easy target because it is highly visible, has a large price tag, and is financed with a federal loan backed by a local motor fuel tax that, some argue, could be better used for purposes such as municipal schools. At the same time, Emanuel, who avoided raising taxes in his first term, in September asked for a huge property tax increase to cover some of the city’s shortfall—a proposal that is anything but popular as he fights to recover the trust of city residents.

While Emanuel wants to reinvigorate the city, he is running straight into the intractable web of crime, money shortfalls, and entrenched factions that have worked hard for what they’ve achieved and aren’t inclined to give anything up.

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