LDF Statement on Chicago’s Police Accountability Task Force Report

Report Documents Extensive Racial Discrimination in Policing Practices in the City

 

Wednesday’s release of a report by the Police Accountability Task Force entitled, “Recommendations for Reform: Restoring Trust Between the Chicago Police and the Communities they Serve,” details the extent of racially-biased policing of, and violence perpetrated against, communities of color by the Chicago Police Department (CPD). The report lays bare that accountability systems, including training and disciplinary procedures, as well as internal review processes, are truly broken in Chicago, with African Americans experiencing racial discrimination as well as verbal and physical abuse at alarming rates. The report echoes and reinforces the disproportionate policing practices occurring in Baltimore; North Charleston, South Carolina; and New York City, among other cities.

“This report confirms what we have repeatedly observed in Chicago and elsewhere — that racially-biased policing is a systemic, national problem needing the fullest attention of individual law enforcement departments, as well as the broader criminal justice system,” said Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF). “We commend the task force for listening to community members in compiling this report, and hope other police departments move to put together similar data-gathering initiatives. However, we insist that such reports are not sufficient on their own — serious, significant, concerted action must be taken on their findings to truly reform policing practices nationwide.”

The report comes on the heels of well-publicized policing misconduct incidents, including the killing of Laquan McDonald, a 17-year-old, in 2014 by a CPD officer who shot McDonald 16 times while lying on the ground. Perhaps most concerning in the report’s findings is the volume of complaints against CPD officers, of which more than 1,300 received 10 or more between 2007 and 2015. The report also found that:

  • While 33% of the population in Chicago was African American, Blacks represented 74% of police shooting victims between 2008 and 2015 and 76% of Taser victims between 2012 and 2015;
  • Although contraband was found on whites twice as often, Black and Latino drivers were searched four times as much;
  • In the summer of 2014, of 250,000 people stopped by Chicago police, 72% were African American; and
  • In 2015, nearly 70% of young Black males reported being stopped by the CPD in the prior 12 months.

“This type of police violence and abuse against civilians is what motivated Congress to give the Justice Department the authority to conduct ‘pattern or practice’ investigations,” said Janai Nelson, Associate Director-Counsel of LDF. “We strongly second the report’s recommendations, which are geared towards addressing policing not only from a training and enforcement perspective, but from an integrated, holistic outlook combining socioeconomics, housing, educational, and health issues.”

In addition to the training and larger policing reform vision articulated in the report, LDF, through its Policing Reform Campaign, calls upon policing and government officials across the nation to realize that meaningful change in policing can only occur when coupled with supervision, corrective measures and wider criminal justice reform.

Listen to Janai Nelson talk about Chicago policing in WVON radio.

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Founded in 1940, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the nation’s first civil and human rights law organization and has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights. In media attributions, please refer to us as the NAACP Legal Defense Fund or LDF.