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Wanted: Police for the police

Poll shows public wants independent investigations of police shootings

The spotlight will continue to shine on police misconduct in 2017. That is reflected in a recent Cato Institute poll that shows nearly 80 percent of the American public is in favor of having a neutral third party investigate police shootings and suspected cases of police brutality.

Currently, police keep investigations of police shootings internal. This has led to widespread criticisms of police cover-ups and failing to provide the public with information about fatal shootings.

The Cato Institute's poll sample from a variety of demographics and political beliefs. The Cato Institute is a public policy research organization "dedicated to the principles of individual liberty, limited government, free markets and peace." It found that both self-identified Republicans and Democrats were in favor of independent investigations, as were all races, including self-identified African-Americans, Hispanics and Caucasians.

Why the lack of transparency?

Clearly, the public is in favor of increased transparency for incidents of police violence. However, it has been a long struggle to increase the public's visibility on this issue. Until the widespread use of social media and smartphones began to capture instances of police violence, many people in many parts of the country did not understand the culture of police violence and discrimination that has been occurring in police departments for decades. And police have usually had a mentality of protecting officers at all costs, even if an officer has violated his or her duty to respect the civil rights of citizens.

Chicago, unfortunately, is at the center for this issue. Several high-profile instances of police violence and civil rights violations have occurred in recent years.

While police misconduct and civil rights violations are still a troubling reality for many Chicagoans, there is some consolation in the fact that more and more police officers are being held accountable across the country, including in Chicago.

If you have been the victim of police violence, or a loved one has tragically lost his or her life in a police shooting, contact an experienced civil rights lawyer to discuss your legal options and rights.

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