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African-American Legislators Call for Expanded Probe of Chicago Police

By Ted Cox | December 8, 2015 11:33am
 Backed by state Sen. Kimberly Lightford, state Sen. Kwame Raoul calls Chicago and Cook County
Backed by state Sen. Kimberly Lightford, state Sen. Kwame Raoul calls Chicago and Cook County "the false-confession capital of the world.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

THE LOOP — Calling Chicago and Cook County "the false-confession capital of the world," African-American legislators on Tuesday demanded an expanded probe into Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez and the Independent Police Review Authority.

Cheering Monday's announcement by U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch of a civil-rights investigation into the Chicago Police Department, state Sen. Kimberly Lightford (D-Chicago), chairman of the Illinois Legislative Black Caucus, asked that the Department of Justice "extend the investigation" to "systematic violations" by Alvarez and the police review board.

"We stand in unity with the community," Lightford said, amid the protests sparked by the Laquan McDonald case.

State Sen. Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago) said police abuse, and the failure to prosecute it, is the reason Chicago and Cook County are what he called "the false-confession capital of the world."

Raoul added that Alvarez cannot bad-mouth the independent police review panel and then say she relies on it for investigations, as she did Monday.

"This is not what we expect from our top prosecutor," Raoul said.

"We're gonna have to change the culture," state Rep. Elgie Sims Jr. (D-Chicago) said.

"The citizens of Chicago have lost their confidence in their Police Department's ability and desire to serve and protect every citizen," Lightford added, pointing out that "officers of the Chicago Police Department rarely face consequences" for excessive use of force.

To that end, Sims touted a "police reform package" already passed by the General Assembly and set to go into law with the new year. It sets standards and funding for police body cameras statewide.

Yet Sims and Raoul also suggested licensing police officers, in that suspending or revoking a license might serve as an extra level of enforcement, as with lawyers, doctors and other licensed professionals.

In the meantime, though, they called for an expanded probe into the Police Department and the State's Attorney's Office and the police review board as the most timely way to address the problems.

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