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.”