Chicago Police Department Findings Letter

U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division

Office of the Assistant Attorney General
Washington DC 20530

January 13, 2017

Honorable Rahm Emanuel Mayor
City of Chicago
121 N. LaSalle Street
Chicago City Hall, 4th Floor
Chicago, IL 60602

Re: Investigation of the Chicago Police Department

Dear Mayor Emanuel:

The United States Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois have completed their pattern or practice investigation into the Chicago Police Department (“CPD”). Our investigation was conducted pursuant to the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, 42 U.S.C. § 14141, Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d, and the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968.

As a result of our investigation, we have concluded that we have reasonable cause to believe that CPD engages in a pattern or practice of conduct that violates the United States Constitution. Specifically, our investigation found that CPD engages in a pattern or practice of using force, including deadly force, that is unreasonable. This pattern or practice is largely attributable to systemic deficiencies within CPD and the City, including deficiencies in training structures and police accountability systems. Our findings are detailed in the accompanying Report.

We opened our investigation on December 7, 2015, with the goal of conducting a thorough, independent, and fair assessment of CPD and City practices. To reach this goal, we relied on several sources of information. We spent, collectively, over three hundred person-days meeting with community members and City officials, and interviewing current and former CPD officers and Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) investigators. We toured CPD’s training facilities and observed training programs, visited each of Chicago’s twenty-two police districts, and conducted over sixty ride-alongs with officers. We met several times with Chicago’s officer union, as well as the sergeants’, lieutenants’, and captains’ unions. We also met with over ninety community organizations, including non-profits, advocacy and legal organizations, and faith-based groups focused on a wide range of issues, and held several community forums in different neighborhoods throughout Chicago, where community members were able to share their stories in person. In addition, we reviewed thousands of pages of documents provided to us by CPD, IPRA, and the City, including policies, procedures, training plans, Department orders and memos, internal and external reports, and more. Finally, we obtained access to the City’s entire misconduct complaint database and data from all reports completed following officers’ uses of force. We thank the City and CPD officials, including the rank-and-file officers, and others, who cooperated with this investigation and provided us with insights into the operation of the Department.

During our investigation, we found widespread agreement among the City, Police Department, and Chicago residents that CPD needs reform to restore public confidence in the police and ensure constitutional policing by officers. We recognize, and commend, the policies, programs, and initiatives the City has created during and prior to our investigation, in order to improve policing in Chicago. Notwithstanding the City’s recent efforts to address the broad problems within CPD, it is not likely to be successful in doing so without a consent decree with independent monitoring. We applaud the City for this recognition and for agreeing to negotiate a set of comprehensive reforms that will be entered as a federal court order and assessed by a team of independent experts in policing and related fields. Through this commitment, the City has signaled its willingness to ensure that the necessary reforms to CPD are created and fully take root.

We look forward to collaboratively working with you to address the issues raised in our Report and create a court-ordered plan for reform. Together; we can help Chicago eliminate patterns of unconstitutional conduct, bolster community confidence, and make policing in Chicago more effective.

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General
Civil Rights Division
United States Department of Justice

/s/Zachary T. Fardon
United State Attorney
Northern District of Illinois
United States Department of Justice

cc:Stephen R. Patton
Corporation Counsel

Brent Gurney
Partner, WilmerHale

Eddie T. Johnson
Superintendent, Chicago Police Department