Chicago Police Department’s ‘black site’ raises need for greater police transparency
Lawmakers must ensure law-enforcement officers aren’t trampling the civil rights of Chicagoans.
In a new investigative report, the Guardian has made very serious allegations regarding the Chicago Police Department, or CPD, accusing police officers of using their Homan Square facility on Chicago’s West Side as a “black site” for detaining and interrogating suspects without regard for their rights.
The report alleges Chicago police officers at the Homan Square facility have either carried out or allowed:
- Keeping arrestees out of official booking databases
- Beatings resulting in head wounds
- Shackling for prolonged periods
- Denying attorneys access to their clients
- Holding people as young as 15 years old without legal counsel for between 12 and 24 hours
CPD officials have denied the Guardian’s accusations, calling them “offensive” and “unequivocally false.” But the department also has well-known, long-standing transparency problems and a troubling history of police brutality, most notably in recent years with the Jon Burge torture revelations.
The fact that the city of Chicago has paid over a half a billion dollars to settle police-abuse claims over the last decade, and has even issued bonds to help cover these costs, shows serious changes are needed. We can’t afford to keep letting misconduct cost taxpayers hundreds of millions every year.
More importantly, lawmakers must ensure law-enforcement officers aren’t trampling the civil rights of Chicagoans.
The city should commission a thorough, independent investigation not only of the Homan Square accusations, but of all Chicago police operations. The CPD, like all government agencies, must be held accountable to the people, and that can’t happen when the public is left in the dark.