CHICAGO (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department will conclude in a report to be released Friday that the Chicago Police Department displayed a pattern and practice of violating residents’ constitutional rights over years, a law enforcement official said Wednesday.
The official, who is familiar with the findings, spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly. He declined to offer details. Based on other such investigative reports on other big cities, Chicago’s could run well over 100 pages.
The Police Department has been dogged by a reputation for brutality, particularly in minority communities, so a finding of at least some violations isn’t a big surprise. Chicago has one of the nation’s largest police departments with about 12,000 officers, and the report stems from an investigation launched in 2015 after the release of video showing a white officer fatally shooting black teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times. Among the questions Justice Department investigators were expected to examine was whether Chicago officers are prone to excessive force and racial bias.
A message seeking comment Wednesday from a police spokesman wasn’t immediately returned.
The Justice Department under President Barack Obama conducted around 25 similar investigations of police nationwide, from Miami to Cleveland and Baltimore to Seattle. A report is one step in a process that’s typically led in recent years to plans to overhaul police departments that are enforced by federal judges.
President-elect Donald Trump’s commitment to such intervention isn’t clear. His nominee for attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has expressed some reservations about using federal courts to pressure police to reform.
The Chicago investigation focused on institutionalized misconduct and sought explanations for why it happens. Investigators combed thousands of police records, interviewed officers and held town-hall meetings.
Follow Michael Tarm on Twitter at @mtarm.
MOSCOW (AP) — A Libyan military chief has visited a Russian aircraft carrier off the coast of the troubled North African country.
The Russian Defense Ministry says Field Marshal Khalifa Hifter visited the Admiral Kuznetsov carrier Wednesday. The carrier and accompanying ships are coming home from a mission off Syria’s coast.
The ministry said Hifter was given a tour of the ship and had a video call with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to discuss “acute issues of fighting international terrorist groups in the Middle East.”
It is the strongest sign yet of Russian support for Hifter, who is allied with an eastern-based parliament that is at odds with a Western-backed government in the capital, Tripoli.
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Florida Highway Patrol says a man received a ticket after a dash-cam in his truck showed him using a cellphone just before the semitrailer he was driving plunged off an Interstate 75 overpass near Tampa.
Authorities say 49-year-old Samuel R. Colon Jr. was seriously injured Jan. 4. According to troopers, when another vehicle changed lanes in front of him, Colon swerved and the rig hit a barrier wall, overturned and fell onto the road below.
Troopers issued a citation Tuesday for using a cellphone while operating a commercial motor vehicle. A first offense comes with a $500 fine.
The patrol’s report says the dashboard video in the truck shows Colon steering with one hand while tapping the cellphone with the other. He quickly grabbed the wheel and swerved as soon as he looked back at the road.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida’s tourism agency agreed Tuesday to pay its outgoing president and CEO $73,000 amid the fallout from the state’s secret deal with rapper Pitbull and a video for his song “Sexy Beaches.”
The Visit Florida board of directors voted to pay Will Seccombe, who agreed to resign after pressure from Gov. Rick Scott. Visit Florida is hiring Ken Lawson, a former federal prosecutor and the current secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to replace Seccombe.
Some of the board members, meeting in Orlando, expressed their discomfort with the arrangement and said that Seccombe had done a good job since he was tapped to lead the agency in 2012.
But they conceded that the agency, which is funded largely with money from state taxpayers, was engaged in a political fight for its existence. House Speaker Richard Corcoran has continued to question why the state should spend money on promoting tourism.
Carol Dover, president of the Florida trade group that represents hotels and restaurants, said it was “imperative” that Visit Florida take action now.
Scott has pushed to increase the amount of state money that Visit Florida uses on advertising to entice tourists to come to the Sunshine State. It has now climbed to more than $70 million.
Seccombe used some of the money on a contract with Pitbull, whose real name is Armando Christian Perez. Pitbull filmed a new video for his song “Sexy Beaches” that featured Florida locations as part of the contract and agreed to promote the hashtag #LOVEFL on his social media sites and at concerts
Visit Florida refused to say how much it paid Pitbull or disclose any details on the arrangement, calling it a trade secret. Corcoran found that unacceptable, saying taxpayers should know just how Visit Florida was spending its money. The Florida House sued in December to release the contract, but withdrew the lawsuit after Pitbull used Twitter to release it.
Scott, who previously had repeatedly praised the job done by Visit Florida, responded to the criticism by calling on Seccombe to resign. Seccombe’s contract could have allowed him to claim more than $400,000 — equivalent to 18 months’ salary — if he was dismissed for no reason. But Visit Florida’s chairman negotiated a deal where Seccombe agreed to accept a payment of $73,000. Board chairman William Talbert said that the money would come from private funds raised by the organization.
Lawson, who currently earns $141,000 a year, will receive a salary of $175,000 and work without a contract. Lawson is an attorney who has worked for the federal government and once was an assistant U.S. attorney, but has no any experience in the tourism industry. Since 2011 he has led the state agency that oversees gambling as well as the regulation of hotels and restaurants.
Scott, who pushed Visit Florida to hire Lawson, said in a statement that “he understands the responsibility we have to be transparent with every tax dollar.” Scott added that Lawson “knows that tourism is important to the economic growth of our state.”
ROME (AP) — Three doctors at a Naples-area hospital have been suspended for treating emergency room patients while they were lying on the floor.
Antonietta Costantini, manager of the public health district that includes Nola hospital, justified the suspensions, saying Tuesday that the physicians should have told administrators the ER had a stretcher shortage.
But Italian Health Minister Beatrice Lorenzin defended the doctors as “heroes” who did the best they could under trying circumstances.
Flu and a meningitis scare flooded Italian emergency rooms over the holiday period, when many doctors were on vacation.
The suspensions were ordered after someone uploaded a video to the internet showing doctors at Nola hospital tending to a patient lying directly on the floor and others on blankets spread out on floor.
In 2008, then-presidential candidate Barack Obama ran on a platform that had the slogan “Yes, we can.” His rhetoric and vision won over the American voter and Obama went on to make history, becoming the first African-American president of this country. Eight years later, Obama is leaving the highest office with a legacy that spans across politics, social media and pop culture.
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