The Chicago Police Department is again being accused to have violated the civil rights of suspects and is under the microscope.
The most recent allegations first appeared in the British newspaper “The Guardian,” in February. In a series of reports, the paper alleges the Chicago Police Department operates an “off the books interrogation compound” in a section of the city’s West Side known as Homan Square. It said that people taken into custody there were often held for hours without being charged and were routinely denied access to lawyers and family. In some cases, the paper said, those in custody were manacled to walls or benches, often for extended periods. In one instance, one person allegedly was found unconscious in an interview room, and was later pronounced dead. And it reported that thousands of people were detained at different times in Homan Square without access to an attorney from 2004 until earlier this year.
Charges against the Police Department go back decades. Some of the most serious allegations in the past were brought against Police Commander John Burge, who oversaw a ring of officers who routinely tortured confessions from suspects — most of them African-American — in the 1970s and ‘80s. Burge was later convicted of perjury in 2010 for lying about that torture and served four years in prison. More recently, the city went through a scandal in the early 2000s, where rogue officers of an elite police unit known as The Special Operations Section robbed suspected drug dealers and others of hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Judy Woodruff asked Chicago’s Superintendent of Police Garry McCarthy about the most recent allegations during an interview in our studio today.