(NBC News) – Chicago police routinely violated residents’ civil rights over a period of several years, the Department of Justice said Friday as it announced the results of a year-long investigation sparked by the shooting death of Laquan MacDonald.
The misconduct included a pattern of unconstitutional arrests and use of excessive force by the country’s second largest police department, and a failure to adequately examine those transgressions, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said.
That toxic combination, she said, decimated trust with the public and damaged officer morale.
“Systems and policies that fail ordinary citizens also fail the vast majority of Chicago police officers who risk their lives every day to serve and protect the city,” Lynch said
The findings came one day after the Justice Department said it had reached an agreement in Baltimore regarding similar findings. The two consecutive announcements signal that the Obama administration, which has taken an aggressive stance on reforming America’s police departments, is trying to tie up loose ends before ceding power to Donald Trump, who moves into the White House next week. Trump has said he disagrees with the federal government meddling with local forces.
The Chicago investigation comes as the city suffers through a terrifying spike in murders, and marks another stain on a force that has suffered through several scandals. Lynch said the city will start negotiating a court-enforceable consent decree that will ultimately improve the fight against violent crime.