The following is the statement of Karen Sheley, the ACLU of Illinois' Director of the Police Practices Project, in response to the release of the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force report:
The members of the Task Force must be commended for the candid assessment of the long-standing problems with policing in Chicago. The willingness to acknowledge the racism that has been endemic in Chicago policing over many decades, to face the frequency of unconstitutional actions by Chicago police, and to recognize that CPD policies and the collective bargaining agreement with the Union has turned the code of silence into official policy -- each are important steps to coming to grips with generations of problems in the way that Chicago is policed.
But such canor is not an end, in and of itself. The strong diagnoses must be followed by action -- by the Mayor, the City Council and the police department. Corrective measures -- those outlined by the Task Force and others -- must be fashioned in a way that they cannot be reversed. And, the City must invest the necessary resources for training and personnel - to confront implicit bias, to train with best practices for deescalating encounters rather than turning to force and to create -- for the first time -- a vigorous and transparent police oversight system.
None of these much needed remedies can be achieved without a fundamental overhaul of how we police the city. The City’s current deployment policy harms communities of color. Residents in these neighborhoods wait longer for response to 911 calls. This lack of timely service erodes the trust between police and the community.
Second, CPD must dramatically change its street law enforcement strategy away from its tried and failed practice of stop and frisk. The Report recognizes that the “overuse” of these stops has created a negative perception of the police in minority communities. We believe that community policing at the beat level, rather than “aggressive” policing including stop and frisk, will make all of our communities safer. These street stops have no demonstrable impact on crime, serve only to further harm the relationship between the police and the community and should be abandoned as a primary crime prevention strategy by the City.
Any reform of policing in Chicago must include deploying beat officers in an equitable fashion to all neighborhoods with the mandate to be responsive to community needs.
For too many neighborhoods across the City of Chicago, this report will not be shocking or enlightening. The practices and problems described have been a constant, often terrifying presence for many years and decades. These residents deserve a police force that treats them -- and every resident and visitor to the City -- with dignity and respect. It is late; but it is not too late.
The words have been laid down and the problems laid bare. It is time for action.
Read the report.