Patterns and Practices (Part 5 of 5)

The Dunn and Lopez cases demonstrate that the CPD has had a policy in place that has allowed detectives to detain suspects in excess of United Supreme Court guidelines for at least three decades. These cases also detail the fact that the CPD has indeed had a “pattern and practice” of detaining suspects pursuant to this policy. In 1994, the United State’s Congress passed a law called the Violent Crime and Control Act of 1994. The novel part of this legislation is Subtitle D – Police Pattern or Practice reading as follows:

Section 210401. Cause of Action.

  1. Unlawful Conduct.-It shall be unlawful for any government authority, or any agent thereof, or any person acting on behalf of a governmental authority, to engage in a pattern or practice of conduct by law enforcement officers or by officials or employees of any governmental agency with responsibility for the administration of juvenile justice or the incarceration of juveniles that deprives persons of rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the constitution or laws of the United States.
  2. Civil Action by Attorney General – Whenever the Attorney General has reasonable cause to believe that a violation of paragraph (1) has occurred, the Attorney General, for or in the name of the United States, may in a civil action obtain appropriate equitable and declaratory relief to eliminate the pattern or practice.

This legislation has led the US Attorney General to seek relief against several different policing agencies throughout the last decade. They include but are not limited to:

  1. Pittsburgh Police Department
  2. Los Angeles Police Department
  3. New Jersey State Police
  4. New Orleans Police Department
  5. Detroit Police Department
    1. Use of force
    2. Conditions of confinement
    3. Arrestee and witness detention

I have highlighted the causes of the Detroit action by the US Attorney General because they have such similarities with the Lopez and Dunn cases. There is little doubt that the Chicago Police have a pattern and practice of using other than humane conditions to confine individuals who are arrested without a warrant and are suspects in violent crimes. The Dunn and Lopez cases clearly delineate a practice that the Chicago Police Department does not want to stop. The Chicago Police lost a class action lawsuit in 1986 and even communicated to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals that their practice of illegally detaining suspects had been stopped. We now know that this communication was not factual. I will leave it to you, the reader, to determine if this communication amounts to perjury or at the bare minimum presents false information to a federal court. As we fast-forward fourteen years we are able to see through the Lopez case that the practice had continued unabated since the 1986 lawsuit. The Dunn case clearly proves that even though they were currently being sued in federal court in the Lopez case for a practice they had sworn to have stopped fourteen years earlier, the Chicago Police continued to hold suspects beyond US Supreme Court guidelines. Even when a separate class action suit was brought in the Dunn case the Chicago Police have continued the unconstitutional practices. On his last day on the job, Superintendent Hillard told us the practice had stopped; once again the facts tell us otherwise. It seems that the only relief remaining to possibly stop this practice is for the US Attorney General to step in and seek relief in federal court with a consent decree. A consent decree will allow unfettered access to police records and data and guarantee they have stopped the practice. I still have my doubts that this option would completely stop the practice, but we have nowhere left to turn. Mayor Daley and Cook County State’s Attorney’s Dick Devine have demonstrated their indifference to major human rights violations through their inaction during the Burge torture saga.

Author: Tracy SiskaTracy Siska is the Founder and Executive Director of the Chicago Justice Project.
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