CHICAGO (Reuters) - The Chicago Police Department is not doing enough to combat racial bias among officers or to protect the human and civil rights of city residents, a task force set up by the mayor said in a report on Wednesday.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel created the panel after days of street protests triggered by video of the fatal shooting in 2014 of black teenager Laquan McDonald by a white police officer.
Describing McDonald’s death as a “tipping point,” the task force said community outrage had given voice to long-simmering anger over police department actions that included physical and verbal abuse.
“The deaths of numerous men and women of color whose lives came to an end solely because of an encounter with CPD (Chicago Police Department) became a rallying cry,” the task force wrote in the report, which was seen by Reuters.
“Far too many of our residents are at daily risk of being caught up in a cycle of policing that deprives them of their basic human rights.”
Chicago Police Department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the department has not received recommendations from the task force, but that the superintendent was awaiting its findings.
The task force said the department’s own data supported the view among residents that it had “no regard to the sanctity of life” when it came to people of color.
The task force noted that of 404 police shootings between 2008 and 2015, 74 percent involved African Americans being shot or killed, 14 percent involved Hispanics, 8 percent involved whites, and 0.25 percent involved Asians.
The task force said police used Taser stun guns on suspects in about the same proportions and that African Americans were disproportionately subjected to traffic stops.
“The community’s lack of trust in CPD is justified,” the report said.
The report recommended creating a community safety oversight board and for the police superintendent to acknowledge publicly the CPD’s history of discrimination and make a commitment to cultural change.It also called for the Independent Police Review Authority, which reviews misconduct cases, to be replaced with a civilian police board.
“The candor reflected in the Task Force report is refreshing,” Chicago Urban League President Shari Runner said in a statement. “The fact remains that the complete implementation of its recommendations requires faith in a system that has not proven worthy.”
“It also requires a mayor and a police department that feel compelled to make hard choices,” Runner said.
“It remains to be seen if the collective will of the people will move Mayor Emanuel to enact the Task Force’s recommendations with the sense of urgency that the issues before us require.”
Reporting by Justin Madden; Editing by Daniel Wallis, Toni Reinhold