Feb. 19 (UPI) — The city of Chicago and its police department were “under-prepared and ill-equipped” to handle protests and violence that erupted last summer following the police-involved killing of George Floyd, the city’s watchdog said.
In a report released Thursday, Chicago’s Office of Inspector General said the police department’s senior leadership “failed the public they are charged with serving and protecting” as well as its rank-and-file members “who were at times left to high-stakes improvisation without adequate support or guidance” to deal with protests that followed Floyd’s death.
Floyd, an unarmed Black man, died May 29 after Derek Chauvin, a White police officer, knelt upon him for nearly nine minutes as he lay prostrate and handcuffed on the ground in Minnesota.
His death, which the medical examiner ruled a homicide, spurred protests nationwide for racial justice over the summer, and Chicago’s OIG said the CPD was unprepared and “critically disserved” both its employees and the public amid the unrest in June.
“While the challenges were daunting, and in some respects unprecedented in recent memory, the efforts of CPD and the City to stem unrest were marked, almost without exception, by confusion and lack of coordination in the field emanating from failures of intelligence assessment, major event planning, field communication and operation, administrative systems, and, most significantly, leadership from CPD’s senior ranks,” the 152-page report said.
The report states there were “breakdowns” in processing mass arrests that have led to missing video and reports that may limit or prevent prosecution. Emergency deployment of members lacking training and policy clarity resulted in “widespread complaints” of obscuring badge numbers and nameplates while there was also widespread non-compliance of officers wearing body cameras preventing accountability, it said.
“CPD and the City will be dealing with the negative repercussions of the shortcomings revealed here for some time,” Deputy Inspector General for Public Safety Deborah Witzburg said in a statement.
The CPD responded to the report in a statement, saying it has conducted an after-action review of its response that has informed the department on how to respond to similar events going forward, including “changes that were implemented in areas that were highlighted for improvement.”
Nusrat Choudhury, the leal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, said the unrest the city was predictable given Chicago’s history and the police should have been prepared.
“As a result, Chicago police retreated to their usual, discriminatory practices,” Choudhury said in a statement. “Without leadership, guidance and training from the top, we saw officers use batons and pepper spray against protesters, retaliate against people recording police violence in real time and try to evade accountability by covering their names and star numbers and failing to document uses of force.”
“This is a sad legacy for the city,” Choudhury said.