This has to go with, “I’m shocked, shocked to find there’s gambling going on in here.” The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has spent the last seven years patrolling the country looking for police department to investigate. Cincinnati was an early stop and they came to Seattle four years ago. In every case the investigators have discovered a pattern and practice of unconstitutional use of force and other issues. DOJ filed suit in U.S. District Court and the cities had to come to the negotiation table to work out a consent decree.
The DOJ campaign was like a police department that expected its traffic officers to issue a minimum number of citations. In every city they visited the pattern and practice was confirmed. Other cities involved include Oakland, California and Los Angeles.
While the lawyers and consultants were interviewing people and reviewing records (Seattle kept careful track of use of force, even the most minor contact) the Chicago PD went unexamined until recently. When the investigation was announced it was news.
Where has DOJ been the past seven years?
I interviewed the Cincinnati police chief in 2011 and he loved the DOJ consent decree. At the end of the process he had a piece of paper that said his department was completely in compliance with constitutional guidelines.