CHICAGO (AP) - A task force that reviewed Chicago police practices in the wake of several police shootings of young black men has issued recommendations for sweeping changes, including hiring an inspector general and overhauling union contracts.
The panel, established by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, said the department must acknowledge decades of entrenched racism within its ranks. A report released Wednesday called the videotaped killing of Laquan McDonald a “tipping point” in the department’s need for reform. The white officer who shot the black teenager shot 16 times in 2014 was charged with murder about a year later, after a judge ordered that the squad-car video be made public.
Here are 10 of the task force’s key recommendations:
- Dismantle the existing Independent Police Review Authority, or IPRA, which reviews police misconduct allegations, and replace it with a “fully transparent and accountable” civilian agency. The report said 40 percent of complaints filed to IPRA were not investigated from 2011 to 2015 and called the agency “badly broken.”
- Hire an inspector general to independently monitor and audit the department and its policing strategies, including watching for racial bias. The report says Chicago police are “not doing enough to combat racial bias” and that their policies need clarification about “whether and when officers may use race as a factor when initiating stops.”
- Overhaul collective bargaining agreements that have impeded accountability, such as those that require complaint records to be destroyed. The union agreements “have essentially turned the code of silence into official policy,” the report said.
- Establish a “mental health critical response unit” and make changes to the 911 system so officers and dispatchers are better prepared to deal with mental health issues.
- Create a department deputy chief of diversity and inclusion. The position would mimic what most other large companies and organizations already do, with responsibility for overseeing minority recruitment and promotion efforts.
- Use data to create an intervention system so the department can identify problem officers earlier. The report blames a “general absence of a culture of accountability” largely on leaders who fail to take “ownership of how to identify and handle problem officers.”
- Make officer complaints and discipline histories available online for the public.
- Expand the use of officer body cameras to help promote accountability and de-escalate confrontations. The department launched a body camera pilot program in January.
- Create a hotline run by a third party for Chicago Police Department members, both civilians and officers, to file complaints. The task force found that there is no method to confidentially report misconduct by fellow officers.
- Fine tune Chicago’s new policy to release video of police-involved incidents within 60 days. The task force researched the issue for the city ahead of the mayor’s February police change but suggested narrowing it in some respects, for example, by taking out accidental gun discharges as a way to reduce the “administrative burden.”
Chicago Police Accountability Task Force: https://chicagopatf.org .
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.