After months of mounting pressure, the Chicago Police Department took a step towards transparency, releasing hundreds of surveillance video and investigative materials displaying police involved shootings and force against citizens on Friday, according to The New York Times.
Chicago’s Independent Police Review authority, which investigates claims of misconduct and excessive force, released the videos derived from 101 cases, reports The Times.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel noted that Friday’s release was “a major step forward to promote transparency, and it makes us one of the leading cities in America to guarantee timely public access to this breadth of information involving sensitive police incidents.”
“We know there is a lot more work to do,” he added.
Others were not as receptive, saying the videos were withheld for too long and were only made public after incessant pressure.
The Windy City’s police authorities and political figures have a lengthy history in keeping police misconduct and obstruction to justice classified. Criticism reached a fever pitch after the police shooting death of Laquan McDonald, a black teenager shot 16 times by Jason Van Dyke, a white police officer.
Van Dyke was charged with murder.
Outcries from the public did not sway officials to release footage of McDonald’s death, resulting in calls for Emanuel to step down. Even after a judge’s order forced the video’s release, public dissatisfaction with Emanuel did not simmer. He faced a difficult re-election season, but clinched the seat in the spring of 2015.
Like Ferguson and Minneapolis, the Justice Department waged an investigation into the CPD and the mayor’s task force, releasing a critical report highlighting racism as the cause for years of neglect and proper protocol in policing.
The city hopes this act of clarity will fuse severed relationships between the public’s distrust of the police, especially within Chicago’s African-American community.
“These past few months, as the city has struggled with so many questions about policing and about police accountability, it has been clear that we all agree that there is a lack of trust, and that increased transparency is essential to rebuilding that trust,” said Sharon Fairley, the police review authority’s chief administrator. “Today represents an important first step toward that.”
SOURCES: The New York Times | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty