Chicago cops grapple with balancing DOJ criticism, community policing

Image 1 of 3

Just hours after the Department of Justice report was released, dozens of Chicago police officers were assigned to a strategic anti-violence mission.

The outdoor roll call was held in the Brighton Park neighborhood, where a gang shooting killed one person and wounded four others this week.

On the day where police were dealing with stinging, widespread criticism of the department's police methods, officers still had to put on their uniforms and go out and do their job, knowing that their boss and the community said they have to do better.

Their mission on Friday was to prevent gang retaliation after Wednesday's assault rifle attack.

“We've got to show that this is unacceptable to the community, we have phenomenal community that lives and resides in this area, we've got to provide a measure of safety for them,” Steven Chung, 9th district police commander, said.

Dozens of police officers from the 8th and 9th districts, as well as tactical and gang units, gathered for an outdoor roll call at 43rd and Rockwell.

“We're gonna gain control of this area and let them know that the residents aren't going to put up with this and neither are we,”  said Ron Dontecore, 8th District.

But officers also had to suppress the scathing criticism of the department that some worry could paint every officer with the label of racist cops prone to unjustified violence against minorities.

“At a time when the report came out today, at a time when so many are looking so down on our department, you truly are Chicago's finest, the neighborhood is with you, I'm with you and I just want you to be safe, to protect yourselves and to protect all of our families,” Ald. Ray Lopez (15th) told the police at the roll call.

Black Lives Matters supporters gathered outside the 1st District Station to call for greater accountability for officers who cross the line.

Dorothy Holmes whose son Ronald Johnson was shot and killed by police in 2014 was one of those supporting Black Lives Matter on Friday. Prosecutors said there was evidence he was armed with a gun, but the video showed he was running away from officers when he was shot. Prosecutors declined to bring charges against the officer.

“We want accountability, we want these officers charged as criminals as they would charge one of us for something,” Holmes said.

Activists such as Kofi Ademola, an organizer with Black Lives Matter Chicago, were skeptical about whether real change will happen.

“We have absolutely no idea how this is going to pan out, but we can look at Ferguson, We can look at Baltimore and we can look at other places where the DOJ has investigated and we can ask what real change and reforms have happened,” Ademola said. “We don't see any as the police murders across the country continue to happen”