Newark settlement suggests U.S. will impose big changes on Chicago cops

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An agreement to end wide-ranging unconstitutional police practices in Newark, New Jersey, while former Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy was that city’s Director of Police may foreshadow dramatic reforms coming to Chicago.

The settlement between the U.S. Department of Justice and Newark officials was announced Wednesday bringing to an end a multi-year investigation requested by the American Civil Liberties Union and launched in 2011 just as McCarthy was hired by Raum Emanuel to head the Chicago Police Department.

A similar Justice Department investigation of the Chicago Police practices began earlier this year.

The Newark investigation uncovered a damning pattern of unconstitutional stops, searches, arrests, the use of excessive force and theft by officers that focused more heavily on that city’s minority communities and inadequate investigation of citizen complaints.

Among the reforms Newark’s police department must now implement are:

  • Revising search and seizure policies to insure stops, searches and arrests conform to protections included in the Constitution
  • Revising and reforming use of force policies and requiring de-escalation techniques when appropriate
  • Establishing mandatory reporting and investigation standards when police use force
  • Implementing measures to prevent theft of property by officers
  • Deploying in-car and body cameras
  • Insuring that the Office of Professional Standards investigators are qualified and trained
  • Creating a civilian oversight entity insure the concerns of residents are heard
  • Improving training and integrating bias-free policing principles at all levels of the department
  • Strengthening its public information programs to report of the departments progress in implementing reforms.

McCarthy was fired last December in the wake of the outcry over the shooting death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald who was shot 16 times in October 2014 by police officer Jason Van Dyke who was charged with first degree murder 13 months after the incident and only when a court forced the city to release a video of the incident.