Chicago Police Have a Terrible Reputation, and For Good Reason

December 9th 2015

Alex Mierjeski

The Chicago police have been in the news an almost absurd amount recently. Here are some recent examples of the disturbing reasons policing in the Windy City has been grabbing so many headlines and causing an uproar that has led to calls for the city's Mayor Rahm Emanuel to resign.

1. Justice Department investigation.


Following public outcry over the case of Laquan McDonald, the 17-year-old shot 16 times in October of 2014, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that it would launch an investigation into the patterns and practices of the Chicago Police Department. That investigation, the agency said, would look into any systemic violations by Chicago police, the department's use of force, and disparities in enforcement patterns across racial and ethnic lines. (Read more about McDonald's case here.)

On Wednesday morning, Emanuel apologized for the Laquan McDonald situation.

"Nothing, nothing can excuse what happened to Laquan McDonald," Emanuel said.

BREAKING: Here's the video of Laquan McDonald's shooting death that the City of Chicago didn't want you to see. (WARNING: Graphic content).Disturbing details here: http://bit.ly/1NO3Yl0

Posted by ATTN: on Tuesday, November 24, 2015


2. Chicago mayor rebukes the department's treatment of tased inmate.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel
A video dating from 2012 was released this week showing Chicago officers tasing a 38-year-old Black man named Philip Coleman, then dragging him down a prison hallway. The video prompted the embattled Emanuel to criticize the practices of the officers and question the policies of the department. Emanuel said that he had not been given a "sufficient answer" as to the treatment by officers depicted in the video and said that he did not consider the case or investigation closed, the New York Times reports. On Wednesday, Emanuel implied that a blue code of silence exists inside the Chicago Police Department wherein police officers cover up one another's abuses.

Related: What is the Blue Code of Silence?

3. Criticism over the killing Ronald Johnson III

Chicago police faced criticism this week over yet another video from October of 2014, showing Ronald Johnson III being shot and killed as he ran from officers. Police said that Johnson was armed, resisting arrest, and posed a danger to the public. A lawyer for the family disputed those claims in a press conference this week, saying there was no reason for the officer in question to open fire. An attorney for the state said that the officer would not face charges for the shooting. Read ATTN:'s story on the case here.

BREAKING: Here's the video of Ronald Johnson's death that Chicago police didn't want you to see.

Posted by ATTN: on Monday, December 7, 2015

4. Mayor Emanuel fires police superintendent.

Garry McCarthy and Rahm Emanuel

Shortly after the fallout over the Laquan McDonald video, which included desperate cries for police reform in the city, Emanuel fired Police Superintendent Garry F. McCarthy. The move surprised some, given that the two figures stood side by side at the press conference announcing the video's release and that Emanuel in recent statements praised the superintendent's work.

Many have argued that Emanuel and his staff intentionally kept the video under wraps until after April's election in which the mayor was reelected to a second term.

"But what of the mayor's accountability? He sat on the video for months. If voters had seen it, he wouldn't have been re-elected. So it all worked out for him," Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass wrote about the timing of the video's release.

Related: Chicago Police Spend an Incredible Amount of Time on Pot Crimes

Emanuel is certainly under scrutiny. A poll released Tuesday said that 51 percent of Chicagoans think Emanuel should resign in light of the Laquan McDonald revelations. That same poll found Emanuel's approval rating at a paltry 18 percent.

5. Homan Square, the Chicago PD "black site."

Chicago Black Site

With attention focused on Chicago and its police force, there's another scandal that, as Mother Jones predicted, is "primed to explode again." Last year, the Guardian's U.S. paper ran an exposé on a place called Homan Square, "an intelligence gathering place" used by Chicago police to hold and interrogate suspects between the the arrest and booking phases. The site garnered criticism following the Guardian piece, which quoted lawyers and people who had gone through it describing it as "something from a Bond movie." On December 15th, Mother Jones reports, the Cook County Board of Commissioners will have its fist official hearing on the site. Read more about Homan Square here, and the original Guardian report here.