Tarnished trust

Florida’s Trayvon Martin case taught us a lot of things. But among the lessons learned is that police accountability is not only a Windy City issue.

In Chicago, I would argue that the lack of accountability with rogue officers has left residents of high-crime neighborhoods distrustful of the police accountability system, which allows abusive officers to keep their jobs with little discipline.

Distrustful residents won’t help police solve cases, and it’s difficult for police to solve cases without helpful residents. In the end, high-crime neighborhoods remain dangerous, and the millions of dollars that could have been spent to quell crime are used as damage payments in these police misconduct cases instead.

In this month’s cover investigation “Abusing the badge,” Angela Caputo uncovers the hidden costs and flawed accountability mechanisms that keep chronically abusive officers employed.

She points to a system in which thousands of civilian complaints are filed against officers that often go unresolved or unfounded. Rarely are officers disciplined for their bad behavior. And in the end, it costs millions.

The police department and various review boards need to be more aggressive in disciplining rogue officers, firing repeat offenders and making it a high priority to regain trust between residents and the police department.

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