Watchdog Report Finds Chicago Police Response to George Floyd Protests Was Defined by 'Tactical Incoherence'

Illustration for article titled Watchdog Report Finds Chicago Police Response to George Floyd Protests Was Defined by 'Tactical Incoherence'
Photo: Natasha Moustache (Getty Images)

I’m sure you don’t need reminding, but George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police spurred ongoing, nationwide protests. Chicago was no exception, and a report from an independent watchdog group finds that the police response to these protests were woefully inadequate.


According to ABC News, the Chicago’s Office of Inspector General found that senior leadership within the Chicago Police Department was to blame for the lackluster, and frankly, irresponsible response. The report found that “strategic and tactical incoherence” defined police efforts during the protests and accused Superintendent David Brown of underestimating the problems that could arise during the protest.

The report found that officers were deployed to the scene with no real plan or set assignments, leading some of the officers to feel like they were on their own. Concerns were also raised about the behavior of some of the officers responding to these protests. In particular, there were allegations that some officers turned off or never activated their body cameras. Investigators also found evidence that some officers “obscured their badge numbers and nameplates while deployed during the protests and unrest.”

“Missing reports and videos may limit or preclude accountability for people who committed crimes and CPD members who committed misconduct,” Deputy Inspector General for Public Safety Deborah Witzburg wrote in the report. I feel like that was a long winded way of saying “Congratulations, you played yourself.”

Many of the protests in Chicago were peaceful, but unrest grew as vandals began to break windows and set things on fire. Things eventually became so chaotic that a curfew was set and the city raised the drawbridges to prevent people from going downtown. When it was all said and done, there were 1,500 arrests and at least six people were shot, with one of those shootings being fatal.

The report ultimately concluded that the police response was “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 highest ranks.”

Interestingly, the Chicago Police Department didn’t dispute any of the allegations presented in the report, instead highlighting the fact it has conducted an internal review of its response.


“The results of this after-action review have since informed the Department on how to best respond to similar situations while protecting public safety and the rights of all individuals involved,” the department said. “This includes changes that were implemented in areas that were highlighted for improvement. CPD will continually review procedures and strategies used in these large-scale responses to ensure accountability at every level.”

The CPD has a reputation for being absolutely trash, so I’m not exactly holding my breath that they’re suddenly going to hold officers accountable for their actions.

The stylin', profilin', limousine riding, jet flying, wheelin' and dealin' nerd of The Root.


Makes Me Wonder Why I Even Bring The Thunder

OIG’s [Office of Inspector General] report focuses on matters implicating violations of existing City policies, variance between CPD’s then-existing policies and the conduct of its members, and the involvement of non-CPD City actors. The IMT’s [Independent Monitoring Team] report arises from it’s duties to monitor compliance with the terms of the consent degree, and therefore focuses on topics covered by the consent decree.

As the Executive Summary of this notes, this is one of two reports forthcoming from the concurrent investigation of these events, with the other one focusing on the Federal Consent Decree requiring the CPD to provide constitutional policing that respects the rights of all Chicagoans, builds community trust, and promotes community and officer safety.

Given the nationwide failures in police responses to these protests and the large numbers of departments under consent decrees, it will be interesting to see what accountability and reforms the larger police command staff community can manage on their own, what gets imposed under decree, and if any of that comes close to being adequate.