ROSELAND — For Ald. Anthony Beale (9th), it's finally time to reform the Chicago Police Department.
Although nothing in the report the Department of Justice released earlier this month came as a surprise, he said the time is now to act on the abuses laid out in the report.
“Now that the cover has been pulled back, everybody sees what we’ve been saying for years and what the community has been saying,” he said. “Now here’s our golden opportunity to do something about it.”
The federal investigation into the Chicago Police Department was sparked by the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald.
The report found that police routinely violated the civil rights of residents through excessive force that was caused by poor training and no supervision.
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Mayor Rahm Emanuel signed an agreement promising to negotiate a legally binding agreement — known as a consent decree — to ensure that reforms are implemented under the authority of a federal judge.
Beale said that he has been speaking out against the injustices for years, but it took this report to show the rest of Chicago the problem.
Aldermen have brought attention to police brutality in the city, but they don’t have the power to negotiate police contracts, Beale said.
“We really don’t have the ability to change things that are within those contracts,” he said. “We ask, 'What is going on with the officers? Are they being disciplined? Are they still on the job,' and year after year, nothing has ever come back saying this officer has been fired."
The rules shield police from meaningful discipline, he said.
"The reason is because the police force protects them,” Beale said. “They have everything in their favor to protect them from wrongdoing."
So people "cry out" that they've been harassed and discriminated against, but the alleged police brutality “falls on deaf ears," Beale said.
There’s also a problem with not enough people of color patrolling the communities, Beale said, but he thinks minorities have been intentionally excluded.
“It has been systematically designed for years to exclude blacks from the police department,” he said. “I’m trying to include blacks, but if the deck is stacked against you …”
The sentiment of his constituents has been calm overall, since this news is nothing new, Beale said.
They feel like these issues have been swept under the rug for far too long, he said.
Beale said there’s hope that with the release of the report and Emanuel on board, change will happen.
“I think [we] can start turning the ship around in order to make a difference,” Beale said.
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