DOJ lets Chicago residents know how to air beefs about cops

CHICAGO (STMW) - The U.S. Department of Justice wants Chicago to know exactly how to submit complaints about the Chicago Police Department in the wake of the release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video and has distributed those details to community leaders.

Rev. Michael Pfleger, the activist pastor of St. Sabina Church, said Thursday that he and about 15 others were given copies in a meeting held Wednesday with attorneys from the department’s civil rights division, and are spreading the word, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

“I want as many people as possible in Chicago to use it,” he said. “We need to make sure that they hear from everybody in the community, and the best way to do that is for people to tell their story . . . I’m encouraging as many people as possible.”

Pfleger said St. Sabina will pass out copies at church this weekend and to schoolchildren.

The Justice Department announced it would conduct a “pattern or practice” investigation of Chicago Police in the wake of the release of the video showing Police Officer Jason Van Dyke shooting McDonald, 17, in October 2014. McDonald was shot 16 times by the officer, who since has been indicted on murder charges. The city fought efforts to release the videotape for 13 months before a judge compelled city attorneys to distribute it.

“The investigation is focused on CPD’s use of force, including racial, ethnic or other disparities in its use of force, and CPD’s accountability systems including how CPD conducts internal investigations, responds to citizen complaints and handles officer discipline,” the department’s notice read. Anyone with information can call (844) 401-3735 or email community.cpd@usdoj.gov.

The DOJ met Wednesday with police Supt. John Escalante to brief police commanders on the investigative process. And on Thursday, they and the U.S. Attorney’s office met with Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his staff and separately with the new head of the Independent Police Review Authority, Sharon Fairley.

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