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HARVEY, Ill. (CBS) — The results are in following a federal investigation into alleged brutality by members of the Harvey police Department.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Conway reports, Acting police Chief Denard Eaves said he has already launched several reforms in response to the investigation.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bob Conway reports
the U.S. Department of Justice began the investigation more than three years ago following a raid by county and state law enforcement agencies, during which hundreds of records and other evidence were seized.
The investigation found officers engaged in “heavy-handed uses of force that were largely avoidable.”
The probe, launched in 2008, didn’t reveal that officers were involved in a pattern of violations of the law.
But in a Jan. 18 letter to Eaves and Harvey Mayor Eric Kellogg, federal investigators warned that they might re-open their investigation if the south suburb doesn’t take “appropriate measures.”
The investigation was launched after the Cook County state’s attorney, Cook County sheriff and State Police raided the Harvey Police Department in 2007 to search for untested evidence in murders, rapes and other crimes.
More than 200 untested rape kits were discovered and the evidence led to charges against 14 people — including a sheriff’s correctional officer suspected in a 1997 assault of a child.
Federal investigators reviewed Harvey’s arrest reports and citizen complaints from 2009 and 2010. They concluded Harvey’s system for documenting officers’ use of force and investigating those incidents was “grossly inadequate.”
In a fifth of the reports, there was no description of what led to the officer’s use of force. And in nearly half the cases, the suspect was arrested for what the officer deemed “a failure to respect the officer’s authority.”
“Because there is no official charge for ‘contempt of cop,’ officers often explain the interaction by charging the person with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and/or assaulting an officer,” the Justice Department said.
“It is apparent that, at best, some of those incidents could have had a better outcome if the officer had employed different tactics. At worst, some of these incidents constitute prosecutable excessive force,” wrote Jonathan Smith, a Justice Department official.
Eaves tells the Chicago Sun-Times the reforms he has issued in response to the investigation include better training in the use of force; improvements to the hiring process; reorganization of some units and an ongoing update of the policy manual.
The Chicago Sun-Times contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)