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Police Brutality Policy Changes in Chicago

Posted on: July 23rd, 2014 by Romanucci & Blandin

A new policy is going into place in Chicago that will make public any completed investigation of Chicago police misconduct instead of the incidents being treated as a personnel matter.  This policy brings with it the hope that there will be transparency within the police department that currently has a reputation for brutality and a having a strong code of silence.

Just last month on, an article was published noting the top four most shocking cases of police brutality, and an incident in Chicago came in at number 3.  In July of 2013, the Chicago police were accused of verbally and physically abusing Jessica Klyzek, a 32 year old manager of a tanning salon and massage parlor.  The police were called to the store in which Klyzek worked after it was reported that a police officer was offered sex by an employee.  When the store was raided, it seems that Klyzek was not cooperative with the police.

In video footage of that day, a police officer is shown yanking Klyzek, a 5’2, 110 pound female and shoving her into a corner.  She claims that an officer covered her mouth and nose and she says she was unable to breath.  Once she had been handcuffed, the video shows an officer striking her on her head.  Klyzek was left with many scratches and abrasions from the incident.  The video also recorded the verbal abuse that she suffered and it was heard that one officer said he was going to Taser her “ten (explicative) times,” and it was also recorded that an officer told her that he was going to “send her back to wherever the (explicative) you came from” since Klyzek is of Chinese origin.  Two of the police officers who were involved in this attack had been previously charged with abusing immigrants.

With the reputation for police brutality that Chicago currently has, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office announced this new policy that will end the legal fight over Chicago’s policy of exempting police misconduct incidents from the Freedom of Information Act laws.  University of Chicago law professor Craig Futterman hopes that this change will convince the police department to investigate the patterns of abuse since information about specific cases and the names of officers who have repeatedly been accused of misconduct will be available to anyone who files an FOIA request.  Futterman said, “Because the department has refused to investigate those patterns, it leaves the cops (responsible) thinking they’re above the law.  This is going to be a strong incentive to say,’ We’ve got to investigate.'”  There is a strong anticipation that this new policy will force the police department to take any allegation of police misconduct extremely seriously and fully investigate them.

There is also a hope that this change in policy can help the police department to regain the trust of the public, which was somewhat lost since the footage of Chicago officers beating protestors at the 1968 Democratic National convention.

That incident was not the only scandal for the police department, and another one actually led to police commander Jon Burge being sent to jail after he was convicted of perjury and was accused of overseeing many men be tortured to force a confession out of them.  Another incident in 2007 involved an off-duty officer, Anthony Abbate, and a surveillance video showed him beating a female bartender who refused to serve him any more alcohol.  He was convicted in his case.

Mayor Emanuel’s office really wants this policy to help build trust with the citizens and the police department and Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said he wants to show how seriously the department is taking any allegation of police misconduct.

It is thought that this new access to information could be useful to prison inmates who have stated that they were convicted because they were forced to confess to a crime that they did not commit.

Only time will tell if this new policy will bring out the rebuilding of the police department’s reputation and if the public will once again be able to trust them.  It is a step in the right direction for eliminating police brutality cases in Chicago.


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