Following the protests and outrage over the murder of teenager Laquan McDonald, the DOJ is looking into the CPD's patterns of practice.

After the controversial handling of the shooting of teenager Laquan McDonald by the Chicago Police Department, one of the largest police departments in the country, The Justice Department has announced that they will be conducting an investigation. According to law enforcement officials, the investigation will be similar to the one conducted after the the shooting in Ferguson. At a press conference on Monday, Attorney General, Loretta Lynch said, “Has released an investigation into whether the Chicago Police Department has engaged in a pattern or practice of the violations of the constitution or federal law.”

The DOJ is already investigating the murder Laquan McDonald, so this new investigation will be targeted at the more broad practices of the CPD and whether or not they have contributed to civil rights violations. Specifically, it will examine a number of issues related the CPD’s use of force including “its use of deadly force, racial, ethnic and other disparities in its use of force and its accountability mechanisms,” Lynch said in her statement.

Last week, Mayor Emanuel said a civil rights investigation would be “misguided.” He then shifted his stance later that day when he said he would welcome the investigation. Emanuel has been facing increasing pressures for reform from all sides, both government and civilian. Early last week he fired Police Chief Garry McCarthy and later that day, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan wrote a letter to the Department of Justice urging them to launch an investigation into the CPD. “The McDonald shooting is shocking, and it highlights serious questions about the historic, systemic use of unlawful and excessive force by Chicago police officers and the lack of accountability for such abuse by CPD,” she wrote. This investigation has been recommended by a number of state and local community leaders. At the end of the investigation, the report will be made public and the Department of Justice will work with the city to implement appropriate reforms.

Last week Emanuel was visibly agitated in response to the onslaught of criticism. He became short and defensive with a Politico reporter when answering a seemingly innocent questionabout his family vacation. Although he is clearly frustrated, Mayor Emanuel has said that he will not resign.

Attorneys General Loretta Lynch and former attorney General, Eric Holder, have both used the patterns-and-practices investigations to investigate police departments for potential constitutional violations. They have investigating dozens of departments since 2009. The investigations have found patterns of excessive force by police in Cleveland; Albuquerque; the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department; Portland; New Orleans; Seattle; Puerto Rico; and Warren, Ohio.

According to Loretta Lynch, the goal of this investigation is not to focus on individuals but to improve systems to ensure a more safe Chicago. In closing, she said, “When suspicion and hostility is allowed to fester, it can erupt into unrest.”

In a similar turn of events on Monday, the Supreme Court declined to reconsider two lower courts' rulings that a ban on assault weapons was constitutional. The decision is being viewed as a victory for gun control advocates. It shows that the Supreme Court Justices mostly agree with the lower courts and feel that it is a matter to be left up to state and local governments.  

-Bronte P.


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