The U.S. Justice Department’s recently announced plan to investigate the Chicago Police Department’s practices and use of force isn’t enough, several black state lawmakers in Illinois said Tuesday. The DOJ’s civil rights probe in Chicago should also cover the city’s Independent Police Review Authority and the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, following widespread cover-up allegations in officer-involved shooting cases, the lawmakers said.
Democratic Sen. Kimberly Lightford of Maywood, a town 12 miles west of Chicago, said city officials and the prosecutor’s office have betrayed the trust of city residents in how excessive and lethal force complaints were handled. “In order to restore the trust of all Chicagoans -- particularly communities of color -- in law enforcement, it is necessary to examine and address not only the Police Department itself, but the entire chain of response through which public complaints against law enforcement pass through,” said Lightford, chair of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, according to CBS affiliate WBBM-TV.
Lightford, along with her colleagues, said unconstitutional policing on Chicago’s streets and impartial actions of agencies tasked with prosecuting police misconduct amount to a broken system. Allegations arose following a pair of 2014 shootings and resurfaced after major developments in the cases – authorities last week filed a murder charge against the officer who shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, but decided not to charge the officer who shot 25-year-old Ronald Johnson III. The teen and the man, both black, were fleeing officers when they were gunned down, as seen in recent video footage of the shootings.
Democratic Sen. Kwame Raoul of Chicago said lawmakers had already passed legislation that establishes guidelines for the use of police body cameras and in-vehicle cameras. There are also laws regulating the collection of data aimed at eliminating racial profiling by police, as well as increased anti-bias training for officers, according to WBBM-TV.