Chicago police try to destroy misconduct records amid federal investigation

The US Judicial Department earlier this month announced an investigation into the Chicago Police Department's 'patterns and practices'

Massoud Hayoun
New York
Monday 21 December 2015 19:30 GMT
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Allegations of police brutality and discrimination have drawn thousands of protestors to the streets in Chicago in recent months.
Allegations of police brutality and discrimination have drawn thousands of protestors to the streets in Chicago in recent months.

Chicago’s police union has ramped up efforts to demand that the city destroy police misconduct reports amid a looming federal investigation into allegations of systematic discrimination and brutality.

The city’s Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) has in recent months been locked in a legal bid to destroy misconduct reports that are 5-years-old and older, citing the terms of a bargaining agreement with the city.

An arbitrator between the city and police representatives ruled in favour of destroying the evidence in November, following public information requests from reporters and police brutality opponents, The Washington Post reported. Earlier this, a federal judge in Illinois, Peter Flynn, ruled that police needed to notify the public before destroying the documents, The Post said. Police have yet to say when they plan to to destroy the records.

The Chicago FOP had not responded to multiple requests for comment from The Independent at time of publication.

The union is expected to expedite efforts to destroy the records after US Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced on December 7 that the US Justice Department would investigate the “patterns and practices” of the Chicago Police Department. The announcement came weeks after the release of video of a white police officer’s killing of a black teenager added fuel to ongoing protests against the policing of American communities of colour.

“Specifically, we will examine a number of issues related to the Chicago Police Department’s use of force, including its use of deadly force, racial, ethnic and other disparities in its use of force,” US Attorney General Loretta Lynch told the press.

A judge on November 24 charged Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, 37, with first-degree murder after video — captured by a police car dashboard camera — was released showing Van Dyke shooting 17-year-old LaQuan McDonald 16 times on October 20, 2014. Police have said that Mr McDonald refused to comply with orders to drop a knife he had been wielding.

President Barack Obama told the press that he was “deeply disturbed” by the footage. McDonald’s and other high-profile police killings drove hundreds of protesters to block Chicago’s retail district on Black Friday, the U.S.’s post-Thanksgiving sales event.

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