The Chicago Police Department has been under intense scrutiny for decades. During the 1968 Democratic National Convention Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley and the Chicago Police Department were accused of treating Vietnam war protesters inhumanely and using excessive force to control them. Time Magazine said of the several-day event, “With billy clubs, tear gas and Mace, the blue-shirted, blue-helmeted cops violated the civil rights of countless innocent citizens and contravened every accepted code of professional police discipline.”
In 1999, two unarmed motorists—Northwestern University football player Robert Russ and 26-year-old LaTanya Haggerty—were both fatally shot by the Chicago Police. Many accused of the Chicago Police Department of racism and shooting the young individuals unnecessarily. Haggerty was shot when an officer mistook a shiny object in Haggerty’s hand for a weapon. Both shootings resulted in lawsuits and Haggerty’s family reached an unprecedented $18 million settlement with the city of Chicago.
More recently, 17-year old Laquan McDonald died after being shot 16 times by Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke. This incident ignited heated protests and demands for the mayor to resign. Protestors demanded that the video of the incident be released. Eventually, a journalist sued to have the footage released and it was made public in 2015. Van Dyke was charged with six counts of first-degree murder and one count of official misconduct.
A New Chapter
Because of this long history of what is often seen as a misuse of authority, many have demanded that Chicago police officers wear body cameras. This past Sunday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and police Superintendent Eddie Johnson announced that the city has provided the 7,000 individuals on the police force with body cameras. Impressively, the goal to provide body cameras to officers was reached a year earlier than originally planned.
This is the largest deployment of police body cameras ever in the United States. Proponents of the cameras hope that they will help hold officers accountable for what they do and say during interactions with the public. The body-mounted cameras can serve as a check against the abuse of power by police officers. Ideally, the cameras will help reduce the incidence of unnecessary violence in police encounters in the future, as well as help protect the officers themselves.
Seek Legal Help
If you believe that you have been treated unfairly by a police officer, it is important to seek legal assistance immediately. Contact an experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney to discuss your options and to begin building an effective case. Call 815-740-4025 and schedule your free confidential consultation with Attorney Jack L. Zaremba today.