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Justice Department Launches Civil Rights Investigation Into Chicago Police

Attorney General Loretta Lynch speaks during a news conference Monday at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C.
Susan Walsh
Attorney General Loretta Lynch speaks during a news conference Monday at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C.

The United States Department of Justice will investigate whether the Chicago Police Department has systematically violated the civil rights of citizens when it uses force and deadly force.

In a press conference on Monday, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that her department was launching a so-called "pattern or practice" investigation after it conducted a preliminary review.

"Building trust between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve is one of my highest priorities as Attorney General," Lynch said. "The Department of Justice intends to do everything we can to foster those bonds and create safer and fairer communities across the country. And regardless of the findings in this investigation, we will seek to work with local officials, residents, and law enforcement officers alike to ensure that the people of Chicago have the world-class police department they deserve."

Lynch said the investigation will review the departments' use of force, deadly force and how it held those officers who used excessive force accountable.

Of course, the investigation comes after the Chicago Police Department came under scrutiny for the shooting death of Laquan McDonald, a case that has sparked its own federal investigation.

Under the Obama administration, the Justice Departmenthas picked up the pace of "pattern and practice" investigations.

The investigation into the Chicago Police Department will be similar to those looking into the Baltimore Police Department and the police department in Ferguson, Mo.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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