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CHICAGO (CBS) — A new report concludes that Chicago and its Police Department weren’t prepared, trained, or ready for the protests, looting, and unrest we saw last year after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The scathing 400-plus page report was just filed in U.S. District Court. It is directly related to the department’s court-ordered consent decree, requiring the CPD make sweeping reforms in how it interacts with people, specifically communities of color.
CBS 2’s Tara Molina dug into the report Tuesday and talked with an expert to weigh in on its findings.
Echoing a February report by the Chicago Office of the Inspector General, the report issued Tuesday by the Independent Monitoring Team gives very specific examples of how unprepared the CPD was for the unrest last spring and into the summer. According to the independent investigator, even if city and police officials could have predicted the scale of what happened here, they didn’t have the procedures or training to handle it.
Beginning on Friday, May 29 and continuing for several days afterward, there were massive protests across the city. There was also looting, rioting, and chaos – downtown in particular on Saturday, May 30, and throughout many city neighborhoods the following day.
Public and private property was damaged, and millions of dollars were spent on police overtime.
The City of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department were not ready to handle any of it, according to the 464-page report issued Tuesday. The report was filed in federal court by the Independent Monitoring Team that is tracking the Police Department’s compliance with the federal consent decree.
The report said, “…the City and the CPD did not have the policies, reporting practices, training, equipment, data analysis, community engagement, or inter-agency coordination required to respond effectively.”
Among the issues was that officers weren’t trained on mass arrest procedures and didn’t have the right equipment, according to the report – which said, “CPD personnel reported that personnel went to stores to buy equipment with their own money.”
While there were mass-arrest procedures put in place, the mass arrest kits available were left over from the NATO Summit protests a full eight years earlier in 2012.
“Some officers told us that some of these mass-arrest kits contained materials that no longer worked…. CPD personnel reported that personnel went to stores to buy equipment with their own money,” the report said.
The report added that “CPD did not have enough appropriate vehicles officers told us they had to drive out of state to pick up equipment or rental vans.”
Further, the report said the city and police dealt with communication issues because “hackers intermittently interrupted radios.”
Also according to the report, many officers didn’t know the city planned to raise the Chicago River bridges downtown, and ended up getting stuck on either side.
“(O)ne police wagon was damaged because it was stuck on a bridge when that bridge was raised,” the report said.
The report said following the downtown unrest on Saturday, May 30, police reported they were “exhausted, dehydrated and had not eaten much for close to 18 hours.”
And even after days of unrest, the report said, “CPD still did not have a clear system for how to organize platoons or how to distribute and track resources.”
There were also reports of excessive force tied to that lack of preparation.
Some from members of the community were interviewed, reporting they participated in what they described as peaceful protest, but saying “that officers were verbally abusive toward them; pushed and shoved them; tackled them to the ground; pushed them down stairs; pulled their hair; struck them with batons.”
The report included accusations against officers of “using racial, gendered, and homophobic slurs, among others.”
“The police officers were also intentional about trying to escape accountability by doing things like not having body cams on; not wearing name badges,” said Sheila Bedi, a clinical professor of law at the Northwestern and the director of the Community Justice and Civil Rights Clinic.
Bedi he pushed for this report.
“The officers, like they almost always all were ill-equipped to deal with the job at hand,” she said.
Bedi also said the report demonstrates the CPD is “ill-equipped to deal with community need,” and said the officers were engaged in “criminal acts; violations of federal law; violations of CPD policy” during the protests and unrest.
“What good is the Chicago police department doing our communities? And that’s the question this report requires an answer to,” she said.
Now, Bedi said, change and accountability need to happen immediately.
“The city of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department needs to respond and respond with some urgency to be sure that people are protected from this kind of violence and that the officers in engaged in this kind of harm are held accountable and not able to police our communities,” Bedi said.
The Chicago Police issued the following statement in response to the report:
“The Chicago Police Department is committed to safeguarding public safety, while also prioritizing the fairness, equity and respect of all individuals.
“We have reviewed the Independent Monitoring Team’s (IMT) report and recommendations on the Department’s response to last year’s civil unrest. The Department had already proactively identified many of these areas for improvement during an after-action review that was conducted in June 2020. The results of the after-action review have since informed the Department on how to improve its large-scale emergency response. This includes changes that will be or have already been implemented in areas like operational planning, intelligence gathering, community engagement, training, accountability and officer wellness.
“Since June 2020, we have also conducted numerous table-top exercises to test the Department’s response to various scenarios based on the improvements that resulted from the after-action review.
“We will continue to review procedures and strategies used in these large-scale responses to ensure accountability at every level of the Department.”
Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois echoed Bedi’s comments about what the report said about the state of the Chicago Police Department.
“Over more than 450 pages, the Independent Monitor’s report and testimony by community members confirm what Chicagoans saw and experienced during the summer and fall of 2020. Chicago police repeatedly engaged in excessive force, disrespectful behavior, and retaliation against people who were exercising their rights under the First Amendment to protest police violence against Black and brown people. The report also shows that there has been little to no discipline of officers who engaged in misconduct and that numerous officers covered up their nameplates and badges in an effort to evade accountability.
“These patterns of police violence and misconduct underscore the ongoing harm to Chicagoans from the City and CPD’s failure to implement requirements of the federal consent decree. This includes desperately needed changes to ensure police accountability, respect for community members, unbiased policing, and a dramatic reduction in police use of force against people. The City and CPD must make real the words and promises of the consent decree to transform policing in Chicago, including when people gather in public to protest violent and racist policing.”
Meanwhile, the independent team behind the report is still at work. They met with community members virtually late Tuesday to discuss the department’s new foot pursuit policy – which was already in the works before it was highlighted by the police shooting and killing of 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Little Village this past spring.
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