A political hot button in our recent history and going back several decades stems upon the ability of those in positions of authority to use their protective power to act in an ethical and civil manner when dealing with the public. However, civil rights are being violated every day and police brutality, bias-based policing, and excessive force are at the root of this national crisis, especially in the larger cities where there are more citizens to protect, and more criminals to subdue. Cook County, Illinois is the second largest populated county in the United States with approximately 5,211,263 people and the third largest Sheriff’s office in the State of Illinois where it patrols the area outside of the City of Chicago but has jurisdiction to back up the Chicago Police Department when needed.
A 2017 Justice Department Investigation of the Chicago Police Department, stemming from the 2015 shooting of Laquan McDonald, revealed excessive use of force, widespread racial bias, irresponsible light reprimands for those accused of misconduct, and poor training. Chicago is the third largest city in the United States where trust and accountability is eroding the faith of the residents, and the ethical police officers who are trying to safely do their jobs and make a positive difference in the communities in which they live and work. The negative public view of the police department and its actions have forced regional police departments to develop actionable policies addressing internal checks and balances to reduce the incidents of any of the categories of police brutality, and address formal reports, citizen reports and social media reports that fuel the actions of those in powerful positions. Incidents of force are growing in proportion to push back from both sides of the argument with rapidly growing tension on the side of the police, who take an oath to serve and protect, and those persons who have been damaged by overarching authority, including excessive use of force and brutality.
Police officers allowed “use of force” including hands, batons, tasers, or other weapons when necessary, and in accordance with officer training and department policy, is among the many misinterpreted powers placed upon government employees, and a topic prevalent in our daily news. The broad-based authority given to police to use force while apprehending criminals, utilizing both physical and psychological methods, to deter and reduce crime is based on policy that dictates what is considered “reasonable” force in any given situation and is often difficult to clarify and measure.
Police brutality occurs when officers overstep their prescribed duties in accordance with training and policy and act alternately to cause physical harm through beating, taser use or firearms. Situations may require the use of force, but excessive force may cause serious injury, and sometimes death as seen in many cases across the United States. Excessive force is not the only violation of police brutality: other actions include false arrest and wrongful imprisonment; wrongful search and seizure activity; sexual harassment; racial and gender discrimination; and general abuse against civilians. Policy brutality is an illegal and actionable offense to be remedied by affected persons, when misguided police officers overstep the boundaries of their “allowed use of force” as defined by individual State and local policy based in part, upon the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution.
- Excessive Force – utilizing more physical force than necessary to subdue a criminal causing bodily harm or death.
- False Arrest and Wrongful Imprisonment – unlawful restraint of a person’s freedom of movement by another acting in perceived accordance with the law.
- Wrongful Search and Seizure Activity – protection from “unreasonable searches and seizures” notwithstanding probable cause enabling a search warrant.
- Racial and Gender Discrimination – bias-based policing is the intentional practice by an individual law enforcement officer who incorporates prejudicial judgments based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, religious beliefs, or age that are inappropriately applied in the performance of his/her duties.
The Cook County Sheriff’s Office has an Office of Professional Review ensuring employee misconduct will not be tolerated and is made up of a group of trained investigators who will conduct administrative and criminal investigations based upon allegations and complaints made against any officers, including correctional officers, deputy sheriffs and police. All complaints must be notarized and signed before being submitted in accordance with Illinois State Law 50 ILCS 725/3.8(b) and delivered to the:
Office of Professional Review
Cook County Sheriff’s Office
3026 South California
Building 2, Fourth Floor
Chicago, Illinois 60608-5110
If you know someone or feel you have been subjected to any of these activities of police misconduct, seek legal counsel to assist with filing of complaints and to see if compensation for injuries, damages for physical injuries, medical bills and pain and suffering could be sought after to remedy the affront.