Recent police shootings raise questions about oversight

This week, the Chicago Tribune’s John Byrne shows how recent police shootings in Libertyville, Riverdale and Rockford have raised questions and calls for greater scrutiny. Some departments are using law enforcement officials from other departments to investigate questionable shootings.
For years, Chicago activists have called for civilian review of police.
They haven’t gotten it, but the city moved in that direction by
replacing the police department’s Office of Professional Standards with
the Independent Police Review Authority, as Byrne notes.

Still, police shootings of civilians are on the rise this year, as RedEye revealed this summer. In a comprehensive, two-part series published in December 2007, the Tribune took a closer look at police shootings in Chicago
and the fact that less than 1 percent of police shootings were deemed
unjustified. The series delves into the web of conflicting accounts
between police and eyewitnesses in many of the shootings.

During the past decade or so, The Chicago Reporter has examined
police shootings in three separate investigations. in 1999, Danielle
Gordon wrote about police shootings in Chicago reaching their highest total in a decade. In 2004, Rupa Shenoy reported how fatal police shootings in Chicago had tripled in three years.
Her story opens with one officer’s description of how and why he
fatally shot a suspect after a long chase. And Jeff Kelly Lowenstein
revisited police shootings in November 2007, showing how many officers
who’ve been sued for wrongful death stemming from fatal police
shootings had been sued previously for alleged misconduct. Included is a database of more than 80 fatal police shootings in Chicago from 2000 to 2007, as well as, databases of police shootings in New York City and Phoenix.

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