The Case for Police Accountability
Racial disparities persist at every level of our criminal justice system, exacerbating economic inequality and inviting disproportionate levels of trauma upon communities of color. Chicago has a long history of racism in policing, including persistent racially discriminatory practices ranging from street level harassment and arrests to excessive and deadly force, and ultimately mass incarceration. Youth of color are particularly impacted, as they are disproportionately denied their right to quality education due to excessive policing in schools throughout the state. Through coalition work, litigation, and policy advocacy, Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights advocates in partnership with communities of color and other organizations in the City of Chicago and surrounding municipalities to implement systems of transparency, accountability, and oversight to end racial disparity in policing and restore trust between police and the communities they serve.
Our Coalition Work
The Police Accountability Collaborative is a coalition of leading civil rights organizations and policy groups that advance police accountability and transparency to improve police practices and restore trust between police and the communities they serve. The Collaborative was convened by Chicago Lawyers’ Committee in January of 2016, after the release of a videotape showing teenager Laquan McDonald being shot to death by police officers on the west side.
The Coalition for Police Contracts Accountability (CPCA) is a group of community, policy, and civil rights organizations working to eliminate the barriers to police accountability written into the City's agreements with police unions. CPCA's 14 recommendations for contracts reform arise from the Mayor's Police Accountability Task Force and the Department of Justice, which both found that provisions written into these contracts give Chicago police officers benefits and privileges that foster misconduct and codify a code of silence.
Police Reform in Suburban Cook County
In the summer of 2017, a video surfaced showing an off-duty police officer in Lansing, Illinois physically restraining and threatening a Black teenager crossing his lawn. Our attorneys provided legal support to the Far South Suburban branch of the NAACP during mediation sessions with the Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service, the Village of Lansing and the Lansing Police Department. We continue to work with the NAACP and Lansing faith leaders on efforts to engage the Village and LPD to improve police-community relations, increase diversity in the police department, and begin a process for improved civic engagement and representation in local government by Lansing’s growing Black and Latinx populations.
For pro bono opportunities with our Police Accountability Project, contact us.