Chicago cops violated citizens' constitutional rights for years

CHICAGO — The U.S. Justice Department will conclude in a report to be released Friday that the Chicago Police Department displayed a pattern and practice of violating residents’ constitutional rights over years, a law enforcement official said Wednesday.

The official, who is familiar with the findings, spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly. He declined to offer details. Based on other such investigative reports on other big cities, Chicago’s could run well over 100 pages.

The Police Department has been dogged by a reputation for brutality, particularly in minority communities, so a finding of at least some violations isn’t a big surprise. Chicago has one of the nation’s largest police departments with about 12,000 officers, and the report stems from an investigation launched in 2015 after the release of video showing a white officer fatally shooting black teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times. Among the questions Justice Department investigators were expected to examine was whether Chicago officers are prone to excessive force and racial bias.

A message seeking comment Wednesday from a police spokesman wasn’t immediately returned.

Cop who killed Laquan McDonald wants murder charge dismissed

Laquan McDonald was shot and killed by Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke on Oct. 20, 2014.

Laquan McDonald was shot and killed by Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke on Oct. 20, 2014.

The Justice Department under President Barack Obama conducted around 25 similar investigations of police nationwide, from Miami to Cleveland and Baltimore to Seattle. A report is one step in a process that’s typically led in recent years to plans to overhaul police departments that are enforced by federal judges.

President-elect Donald Trump’s commitment to such intervention isn’t clear. His nominee for attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has expressed some reservations about using federal courts to pressure police to reform.

The Chicago investigation focused on institutionalized misconduct and sought explanations for why it happens. Investigators combed thousands of police records, interviewed officers and held town-hall meetings.

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