CHICAGO (AP) — Police in Chicago have “no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color” and have alienated blacks and His- panics for decades by using excessive force and honoring a code of silence, a task force de- clared Wednesday in a report that seeks sweeping changes to the nation’s third-largest po- lice force.
The panel, established by Mayor Rahm Emanuel late last year in response to an outcry over police shootings, found that the department does little to weed out problem of cers and routine encounters unnec- essarily turn deadly.
The group concluded that fear and lack of trust in law en-
forcement among minorities is justi ed, citing data that show 74 percent of the hundreds of people shot by of cers in recent years were African- Americans, even though blacks account for 33 percent of the city’s population.
“Reform is possible if there is a will and a commitment,” the report said. But change must start with an acknowl- edgement of Chicago policing’s “sad history.”
The task force pointed to examples that spanned genera- tions, including the 1969 killing of Black Panther Fred Hamp- ton, allegations of torture from the 1970s to the 1990s under former commander Jon Burge and controversial stop-and-
frisk practices in the early 2000s.
The report “raises con- sciousness,” activist Greg Liv- ingston said. “It shines a light into the darkness.”
The city’s new police chief said the department welcomed “a fresh set of eyes” but was not waiting for recommenda- tions from the task force or from a civil rights investigation by the U.S. Justice Department before making changes. Eddie Johnson, an African-American with 27 years on the force, was Emanuel’s hand-picked choice to take the top job. The City Council con rmed the appoint- ment Wednesday in a 50-0 vote.
“We have racism in America. We have racism in Chicago. So
it stands to reason we would have some racism within our agency. My goal is to root that out,” Johnson told reporters af- ter he was sworn in.
In a summary of the report, the Task Force on Police Ac- countability recommended replacing the “badly broken” independent review authority that currently investigates mis- conduct with a “new and fully transparent and accountable Civilian Police Investigative Agency.” It also suggested cre- ating the post of deputy chief of diversity and inclusion.