CPD has long way to go to win trust of young Latino and Black men, new survey shows

A follow-up report by the court-appointed monitor of the Chicago Police Department has found that many Black and Latino men still do not trust officers to treat them with "dignity and respect."

Words commonly used by the men to describe Chicago police were aggressive, racist, disrespectful, unreliable and unethical.

"I don’t trust them. They don’t care about what happens in the neighborhood," said a man who participated in the survey overseen by the monitor, Maggie Hickey, a former federal prosecutor. "When there is a shooting, I want [police officers] to do their jobs. They don’t do their jobs. Not a source of justice or beacon of hope."


The survey provides a measurement of the police department as it continues to grapple with sweeping reforms ordered in a federal consent decree after the police killing of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald.

Earlier this year, Hickey’s office found that the department was falling short in its efforts to engage and build trust among residents.

The latest report, released Thursday, found little improvement from a similar survey by the monitor in 2019. That report found Chicagoans gave the police department low ratings for trustworthiness and "procedural justice" with negative reactions strongest among Black and Latino men.

(Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

In the new survey, Black and Latino men from Chicago, ages 18 to 35, were interviewed in December 2020 through June 2021.

"Young Black and Latino men in Chicago continue to report that they do not experience procedural justice during their interactions with the [Chicago Police Department]," Hickey wrote. "Black and Latino men want to be treated with dignity and respect."

One participant said he experienced too much bad behavior by officers to counter the good that some of them do.

"There was one guy that goes to the center. He got shot, and a cop put a tourniquet on his leg, saved his life," he said. "But I saw the cops handcuff my brother to the gate and beat him, then throw him in the car."

He also recounted an officer forcing him to take off his boots and stand in snow while getting searched, comparing his treatment to a "minstrel show."

Many participants said their cars were frequently stopped by police for non-moving violations — such as hanging an air freshener on the rearview mirror or having dark-tinted windows.

The stops often led to searches of their cars while guns were pointed at them, they said.

Most participants called for more accountability and better training, pointing out the importance of de-escalation skills in police officers.

"I know they’ll show up and answer the call, but when they get there to respond without knowing the community and the area, the problem could escalate," said one participant.

"If it’s a fight or a dispute where people were shot and stuff like that, they come with little training on how to slow the bleeding down and do things like that," the participant continued. "But I don’t really trust them to make the right decisions in the moments where it could be resolved."

Another participant said he felt threatened when police officers aggressively raided his home.

"They raided my house, saying it was because they had seen something online on Facebook," he said. "Hand already on the pistol ready to pull out of the holster."

The report was filed with the U.S. District Court, which has been overseeing the police department’s compliance with the consent decree.

Attorney General Kwame Raoul — whose office was part of a lawsuit that led to the consent decree — said the lack of trust found in the latest survey "shows up daily in unsolved shootings and fearful witnesses."

"Stemming this tide of violence — not just temporarily, but sustainably —will require CPD to fundamentally reset its relationship with Black and Latino residents," he said.