WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Monday the Justice Department was still deciding whether it would seek to impose reforms on the Chicago police force, which was the subject of a critical report by the former Obama administration.
In a report issued on Jan. 13, a week before President Donald Trump took office, the Justice Department said Chicago police routinely violated the civil rights of people. It cited excessive force, racially discriminatory conduct and a “code of silence” to thwart investigations into police misconduct.
Chicago and federal officials signed an agreement in principle to create a court-enforced consent decree addressing the issues revealed by the probe when the report was released. The consent decree must be negotiated, then approved by a federal judge.
Sessions has not committed to entering into negotiations with the department to determine what reforms, if any, should follow.
“I have not made a decision about that, but I am really worried about Chicago,” Sessions said told reporters at a briefing.
Sessions said police officers in Chicago were arresting people less frequently, which he speculated may be out of fear their interactions could be recorded and spread on the internet.
Trump has regularly singled out Chicago’s failure to curb violence, most recently saying the city was “totally out of control,” in a Twitter message.
Police in Chicago, New York, Ferguson, Missouri, and elsewhere have come under fire for using excessive force, primarily against black men, in incidents recorded on cellphones and shared online.
Sessions said he had seen summaries of both the Chicago report and the report that the Obama Justice Department completed on police in Ferguson.
“Some of it was pretty anecdotal and not so scientifically based,” Sessions said.
Reporting by Julia Edwards Ainsley; Editing by Peter Cooney