Chicago's police department has "no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color" and its accountability system is broken, a task force declared in a scathing report released Wednesday.
Compiled by a panel of dozens of people who interviewed more than 100 experts, in addition to residents, the report contains sweeping recommendations for how to overhaul the Chicago Police Department [CPD] and restore trust with the community.
The report, commissioned by the city's mayor, highlights last year's mass public outrage at the police shooting death black teenager Laquan McDonald as a "tipping point."
"A painful but necessary reckoning is upon us," the task force determined. "That is what these times demand."
By analyzing data, the task force concluded minorities are more than justified in their fears of being mistreated by the city's law enforcement officers. Between 2008 and 2015, for example, black people comprised 74% of people shot by Chicago police, despite making up just 33% of the city's population. Police also performed stops or used Tasers on African-Americans at alarmingly high rates.
"CPD's own data gives validity to the widely held belief the police have no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color," the report states.
Moreover, the report paints a damning picture of the police department's accountability processes, highlighting "serious structural and procedural flaws that make real accountability nearly impossible."
Police union contracts give unfair advantages to officers, the task force found, with the internal investigation agencies underfunded, lacking true independence, and not accountable for their work.
"Even where misconduct is found to have occurred, officers are frequently able
to avoid meaningful consequences due to an opaque, drawn out, and unscrutinized disciplinary process," the task force wrote.
"The only conclusion that can be reached is that there is no serious embrace by CPD leadership of the need to make accountability a core value," the report states. "These statistics give real credibility to the widespread perception that there is a deeply entrenched code of silence supported not just by individual officers, but by the very institution itself."
The department was also blasted for not doing more to combat racial bias and properly train its officers in the cultures of the communities they serve, particularly young people of color.
"Children in some areas of the city are not only being raised in high-crime environments, but they are also being mistreated by those who have sworn to protect and serve them," the report found.
Among the recommendations for changes made by the task force were the establishment of a community oversight board and an inspector general for public safety to independently audit the police.
Additionally, the task force called on the police superintendent to "publicly [acknowledge] CPD’s history of racial disparity and discrimination, and [make] a public commitment to cultural change."