MAP: Chicago Is Latest In Long List Of Police Departments To Be Investigated By the Feds

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The Chicago Police Department is the latest local law enforcement agency to come under fire, following the recent release of 2014 graphic video showing a white Chicago police officer shooting and killing a 17-year-old black male.

Protests erupted last week after the city was forced to release the year-old footage. And on Tuesday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel  announced the dismissal of police Superintendent Garry McCarthy. Emmanuel said he would appoint a task force to look at police accountability, noting that "public trust" in the police had been "shaken" and "eroded."

McCarthy's dismissal comes on the same day that Illinois Attorney General asked the Justice Department to investigate whether the Chicago Police Department's practices violated constitutional law, NPR reports.

If the Justice Department decides to take up the investigation, the Chicago PD will join the ranks of roughly 70 other police departments nationwide that have been investigated by the feds for brutality, racial bias and other civil rights violations.
Click points on the map below for specific DOJ 14141 investigations of police departments around the country (with data compiled by the Marshall Project.) The map details on-going cases and negotiated settlements (not all 67 cases). Map design by Charu Kukreja and Roland Hansson.

View here in fullscreen mode.



Although they make up only a tiny percentage of the the nearly 18,000 state and local law enforcement agencies around the country, some of these departments are among the nation's largest, serving nearly one in five Americans, according to a recent analysis.

14141-graphic_full_updated2-1DOJ investigations of police forces, from Detroit to the U.S. Virgin Islands, are the outcome of a federal law prompted by a 1991 incident involving Rodney King, an unarmed black man savagely beaten by Los Angeles police officers during a traffic stop.  The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, enacted three years later, includes a provision -- Section 14141 --  that gives the DOJ authority to investigate systemic civil rights abuses. It's one of the few federal tools that can compel widespread change in local law enforcement agencies, empowering the DOJ to take legal action against a police department unless it  enters into a negotiated settlement -- such as a consent decree or memorandum of agreement -- and makes proposed reforms under a specified timeline.

There have been 67 formal investigations opened under Section 14141 to date. Of those, 22 cases have been closed without an agreement, 33 cases resulted in a negotiated settlement, and 12 cases are ongoing, including four currently in litigation.

The tactic has its naysayers: some critics call it a blatant form of government overreach that places unrealistic expectations and financial burdens on already strapped local police departments. Others question its effectiveness, pointing to instances where the DOJ's mandates were ignored or where reform efforts after federal oversight ended, as in the case of Cleveland's department, which has undergone two DOJ investigations.

But advocates point to numerous examples of success that have led to sustained reforms and significantly improved police-community relations.