A task force declared Wednesday in a report that police in Chicago have "no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color" and have alienated blacks and Hispanics for decades by using excessive force and honoring a code of silence.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel says it could take years to work through all the problems addressed in the task force's report, but he says it can and needs to be done.
The police union has some concerns about how this might impact morale in the department and that officers may not be getting a fair shake. But it's getting a very different reception from an organization that is anxious to see it foster some real change.
The biggest question that may come from the Task Force's recommendations on police accountability may be will it translate into meaningful change and improve the broken relationship between police and the neighborhoods hardest hit by crime where there is the greatest lack of trust.
“I don't think we can fail in this effort because we owe it to the citizens of the city of Chicago and we owe it to the men and women who also wear the uniform in the Police Department to get this right,” Mayor Emanuel said.
The mayor, who spoke before getting briefed on the report, stressed two key issues.
“A honestly confront the past, second, make the necessary changes so people have confidence in the oversight, I think we can have a stronger future,” he said.
Greg Livingston, who’s the President of Coalition for a New Chicago, says the report raises people's consciousness. He says one key for change is for cops accused of criminal wrong doing to go to jail instead of desk duty. But he has great hope that systematic changes will happen.
“Mayor Emanuel has to stay out of the way, he's not a police officer, he doesn't know how to police, he needs to let Superintendent Johnson do his job, the other officers, leave them alone, and don't micromanage them,” Livingston said.
But the head of the police union is concerned that city leaders may rush to make changes before the Department of Justice investigation is done only to have to undo or redo things. He's also concerned about underlying motivations.
“I think what's going on is people are running on an anti-police platform instead of an anti-crime platform. To perpetuate their political life,” said Dean Angelo Sr., President of the Fraternal Order of Police.
The new superintendent says he's not waiting for the Justice Department investigation or recommendations from this task force to begin making changes.