AP News Guide: Feds begin work on Chicago police probe

22 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

AP News Guide: Feds Begin Work on Chicago Police Probe.

A federal civil rights investigation that will look at one of the nation’s largest police departments began in earnest Wednesday, with Chicago’s top officer saying Department of Justice agents were expected to sit down with top Chicago police brass.The fact that Laquan McDonald was a black teenager with a troubled life is not the point [“Family of teen shot by Chicago cop joins calls for change,” News, Dec. 12].From Chicago to Springfield, there has been plenty of political flank-covering in the aftermath of the police shooting of Laquan McDonald, from Tuesday’s lengthy City Hall hearing on police misconduct to a long-shot bill at the Capitol that would allow for a recall of Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

US police chiefs are facing rising job insecurity as they grapple with a jump in crime rates and greater scrutiny by media and federal authorities in the wake of videotaped shooting incidents involving cops nationwide. Interim Superintendent John Escalante told a city council hearing Tuesday police are entering uncharted territory as they prepare to answer inquiries. “We have not been through anything like this before,” he said.

The recall bill aims to give voters a chance to oust Emanuel before the next election, but the proposal is rife with legal questions and likely to stall under the legislature’s top Democratic leadership. Going deeper, the fact that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s tenure has been heavily controlling, even autocratic and self-serving, might be the biggest reason for this tragedy. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the investigation Dec. 7 amid protests over the release of a video of the 2014 fatal shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald by white Officer Jason Van Dyke, who is charged with murder.

Chicago joins a long list of other police departments that have been looked at, and the DOJ has opened 23 since the start of the Obama administration, its website says. Police chiefs have also lost their jobs in Baltimore, Newark, Phoenix, and Cincinnati, and in smaller cities including Portsmouth, New Hampshire; Inkster, Michigan; and Morrow, Georgia. The protesters gathered at 7pm at West Congress Parkway and Clark Street, after the Chicago Light Brigade had held its annual vigil for victims of police violence.

Protesters have called for the ouster of San Francisco Police Chief Greg Suhr, following outrage at the shooting death of a black man by officers that was caught on tape. Two police wagons and dozens of officers were on site to respond to the protest. “This serves as a warning that we can do this at any time we have to do it until Rahm is gone and Anita is gone,” protester Jim Ginderske said, according to the Chicago Tribune. “Mr. Daniel Solis, 25th, summed up the aldermanic frustration when he sought answers from Sharon Fairley, Emanuel’s new pick to run the city’s Independent Police Review Authority that investigates police misconduct. The advent of police body and dashboard cameras, and the use of smartphones to quickly share video via social media has ratcheted up the pressure, law enforcement officials and experts said. “I talk to enough chiefs who recognize they’re one incident away from their whole department being put under a huge microscope,” said Chuck Wexler, executive director of Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), a non-profit organization that has been hired by dozens of cities in recent years, including Chicago, to help recruit new police chiefs. “Mayors are reacting quickly,” he added. “They’re holding police chiefs to a standard we really haven’t seen ever, especially around issues of use of force and community trust,” he added.

President, I want you to send a representative to convene a White House summit on gun violence, and urban poverty, and police brutality,” said McDonald’s great uncle Reverend Marvin Hunter on November 11, according to CBS Chicago. “Time and time again, black people are being mistreated by the legal system here, by the Chicago Police,” Hunter added. “We’re suffering because of laws and policies put in place. Solis asked Fairley for numbers on the results of IPRA investigations, but the recent appointee didn’t have the specifics. “I think that’s a ridiculous response,” said an exasperated Solis. “Again, this is about understanding the system is broken.

There’s no rush: Investigations of far smaller departments have taken more than a year to finish, and it’s likely the one into Chicago’s 12,000-officer force will be the same. We need information, we need understanding of how the system works, and if you can’t answer the questions, then this is not going to be — it’s a waste of time.” As Fairley’s testimony entered the third of four hours, Solis left the room to check messages and commiserate with colleagues in the room next to the council chamber. The skills required to succeed as a chief – understanding the media, working well with politicians, strong public speaking and the ability to both lead and discipline your officers – are the same as always, he said. The head of the Chicago police union, Dean Angelo, told WTTW-TV he already met with the U.S. assistant attorney general for the civil rights division, Vanita Gupta, who leads the investigation.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, Commander Glenn Evans, accused of jamming a gun down suspect Rickey Williams’ mouth during a 2013 encounter, was found not guilty of aggravated battery and misconduct. Nevertheless, he said, there is no shortage of people who want a chief job in the largest cities, which according to PERF came with an average annual salary of $195,000 in 2014. While on December 7, video footage from 2012 was released showing Phillip Coleman in a jail cell being tased three times before being dragged down the hallway. A Reuters review of the nation’s largest 30 cities showed the average chief had held the job for 4.2 years, relatively unchanged over the last 10 years. An autopsy report listed the cause of death as a severe reaction to haloperidol, an antipsychotic drug, but the report also documented a fractured rib and over 50 bruises and scrapes.

Jaime Andrade. “This is what the people wanted,” said Ford, who acknowledged that legal questions exist as to whether his bill could apply to a sitting mayor. “If this is what the people really want, I hope the speaker will listen.” Speaker Michael Madigan, a veteran Southwest Side Democrat who also chairs the state party, is the key for any bill to advance. A key component is also community outreach — talking with families of Chicago residents shot by officers, likely setting up a hotline and email for tips and holding town hall meetings to get direct feedback from the public. In October, it was revealed that more than 7,000 people – 82 percent of whom were black – were detained, “disappeared,” and not given access to an attorney at a secret ‘black site’ police detention center in Chicago. But Democratic Senate President John Cullerton, an Emanuel ally who counts the mayor as a constituent of his Northwest Side district, is more definitive.

That trend has reversed for some serious crimes, with national murder rates up 16 percent this year, according to an October report by the Congressional Research Service. The DOJ will scrutinize Chicago police from top to bottom as agents try to determine if there’s something systemic in how the department works that leads to patterns of abuse that violated citizens’ rights enshrined in the U.S.

Chicago’s murder rate rose 14 percent through November, while Houston and San Francisco’s through October are up 30 percent and 18 percent, respectively. In September, a police chief in Surf City, North Carolina, said he was forced to step down after he described the Black Lives Matter movement as “an American-born terrorist group” in a Facebook post. Republican activists have sought to encourage GOP lawmakers to sign onto the bill, ostensibly to encourage Republican outreach to African-Americans but also to try to take advantage of a rare show of weakness by Emanuel. And CompStat, a system that gathers data to help police pinpoint hot spots and deploy officers effectively, has become a source of controversy in Chicago and other cities where critics say police misreport crimes. Veteran election law attorneys say the question of whether a recall could be activated against Emanuel should the bill become law could take the rest of the mayor’s current term to litigate.

In 1976, a federal court dismissed a challenge raised by a group of Berwyn aldermen over whether their terms could be cut short by a voter referendum proposal that was aimed at putting all city offices up for election on the same date. But in 1996, the state Supreme Court ruled against portions of a law to change the members of the University of Illinois board of trustees from an elected position to an appointed one. Redfield said Emanuel also could possibly have a claim under a provision of the Illinois Constitution that prevents “ex post facto” laws, or those punishing for past actions, though those are usually invoked in criminal cases. “The constitution requires that laws be general in their application, and I think if this were passed it would certainly end up in court with a challenge that this was violating the mayor’s constitutional rights because you are essentially changing the rules of the game after the fact,” Redfield said. That would put into motion a six-month process in which backers would have to get petition signatures equal to at least 15 percent of the total votes cast in the last mayoral election. Even if the bill is rewritten to affect future mayoral terms, he said he believed petition signatures should be gathered in a show of “no confidence” to Emanuel.

Ford, however, has not called for Emanuel to resign, doesn’t believe the mayor will do so and said recall should not be “an easy process” initiated over personality disputes or competing political philosophies, but more for issues involving potential criminal conduct or neglecting duties. “I’ve never been with Rahm. She said the task force also will look to establish “a very clear policy on when videotape and other evidence gets released in connection with important police actions such as police-involved shootings or other in-custody incidents.” And she said the task force will try to set clear directives for police to deal “with individuals who are in duress, and particularly those who are exhibiting any mental illness or mental disability.” McDonald was behaving erratically the night Van Dyke shot him.

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