Sources: U.S. Department of Justice Plans To Release Report On Chicago Police Next Week
UPDATED 8:50 P.M.
The U.S. Department of Justice is planning to release its long-awaited report next week on whether Chicago police officers systematically violated the Constitutional rights of citizens, according to three people with knowledge of the investigation.
The sources said federal investigators are hurrying to get a report released before President-elect Donald Trump is sworn into office Jan. 20 because of concerns the report’s findings could be delayed or buried.
A source, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to comment, said the report is likely to come out either Jan. 13 or Jan. 16. Chicago Police Board President Lori Lightfoot said she heard federal investigators are looking to release their report by Jan. 13. A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.
Adam Collins, a spokesman for Mayor Rahm Emanuel, said in a statement that the city would not speak for the Justice Department.
"As you can see from our actions over the past year, we are committed to continuing to make significant and much needed reforms, providing officers with the tools and certainty they need to do their tough jobs well," Collins said. "We have worked closely with the Department of Justice throughout their process, and we are not going to get ahead of them by speaking on their behalf now."
On Wednesday, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said he has heard the report will be released soon.
“I spoke to the attorney general about three weeks ago, and urged her to move on this as quickly as possible,” Durbin said. “We need this. We have got to start repairing the wounds in the city of Chicago and making the streets safer, and getting the police department to be the most effective it can be.”
Durbin made his remarks shortly after an hourlong meeting with Trump’s pick to be the next attorney general, U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala.
Durbin said Sessions was not aware of the investigation into the Chicago Police Department.
“I tried to fill him in as best I could and ask for a commitment to move forward with it, which at least at this meeting he wasn’t prepared to make,” Durbin said. “They’ve been working it for over a year, and if we can get it out and start looking at it and deciding what will be helpful and what we can agree on, that’s far better than having this buried in a new administration back in some cabinet.”
The election of Trump fueled questions about the timing and status of the federal civil rights investigation.
In November, former federal prosecutor Jeffrey Cramer said he expected investigators to get a report out before Trump took office.
“The new administration is going to have a pretty scathing report dumped in their lap. And it’s going to be hard to to ignore,” Cramer said.
In 2015, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the federal probe into the Chicago Police Department shortly after the city released video from a police dashboard camera capturing the a white police officer shooting a black teenager 16 times.
The department claimed the shooting was justified, and a police union spokesman claimed the teenager, 17-year-old Laquan McDonald, was walking toward officers with a knife. But the video showed McDonald veering away from officers.
The officer, Jason Van Dyke, has since been charged with first degree murder.
Patrick Smith is a WBEZ producer and reporter. Follow him @pksmid.