CHICAGO (AP) - A group of retired black Chicago Police officers on Thursday called on the department to halt promotions and hiring until federal authorities complete an investigation launched after a video of the shooting death of black teenager Laquan McDonald was released.
At a news conference in front of police headquarters, Richard Wooten said the group also wants the department to rescind recent promotions because "we can no longer trust" Mayor Rahm Emanuel and interim Police Superintendent John Escalante and others who run the department.
"We know from experience that the Chicago Police Department has not been fair on the exams of entry and promotions," he said. "There is a system in place that has caused African American candidates not to be able to proceed to become part of this wonderful department."
Blacks both in and outside the department have long complained about the lack of diversity on the police force, but Wooten said the former officers decided to become even more vocal in their criticism now because the McDonald case has shined a national spotlight on the department and federal authorities are investigating the force.
The department has increased the number of African Americans ever since it was forced to do so by a series of federal lawsuits beginning in the 1970s. But, a comparison of department statistics with U.S. Census Bureau statistics show that the percentage of blacks on the force lags behind percentage of blacks in the community. While 22.6 percent of the force is African American, according to department statistics, the Census Bureau statistics show that blacks make up 32.9 percent of the Chicago population.
But department spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said the department has made "historic" strides in promoting African Americans and said that with the most recent promotions half of the department's senior command staff is now made up of African Americans.