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Chicago’s New Top Cop Rejects Code Of Silence, Says Good Officers Should Hold Bad Cops Accountable

"I reject the view that you can't support cops and hold them accountable," Police Supt. David Brown said. "God help us if we can't find the courage to publicly condemn police misconduct and excessive force."

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown at a Thursday news conference.
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CHICAGO — Chicago’s new top cop wants the general public to know he will not tolerate police misconduct — and he’s not afraid of the backlash he might get for saying so.

Chicago Police Supt. David Brown said there’s “no contradiction in supporting officers and holding officers accountable. None.”

Brown’s comments came at a Thursday news conference on police accountability alongside Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Sydney Roberts, the Chief Administrator for the Chicago, Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA). 

Before the news conference, Brown said another officer told him he should not stand beside Roberts or outside of COPA’s headquarters— since the organization investigates police wrongdoing. Chicago Police have long been accused of a code of silence that protects officers no matter what they do.

“The cops will be so upset with you,” another officer told Brown, he said. “You’ll lose the cops.”

“I reject the view that you can’t support cops and hold them accountable,” Brown said forcefully. “The best way to represent this star is to ensure that it stands up to its nobility as a profession. And it is a noble profession, but for us leaders not having the courage to hold those accountable who mistreat others? That is not the nobility of this profession. And I stand firm in supporting any and all investigations to seek out and find the truth. And the truth is real justice.”

Lightfoot and Brown were questioned about reports of police misconduct in Chicago in recent days, including an incident in Belmont Cragin where a woman was violently pulled from a vehicle by police who kneeled on her. COPA is investigating the incident, which was caught on video and first reported by Block Club.

Lightfoot and Brown declined to comment on the incident, saying COPA was working to identify the officers involved and conduct a full investigation. They were also asked about a police chase that left a woman in Lakeview dead Wednesday night, but said that incident was also under investigation.

“God help us, God help us if we can’t find the courage to publicly condemn police misconduct and excessive force,” Brown said. “We will thoroughly, thoroughly investigate any and all complaints of misconduct, and we will also hold officers accountable who are complicit of misconduct. It’s always the right time to do the right thing. Ethics is doing what’s right when no one’s looking.”

Brown’s comments come on the seventh night of protests against police brutality across the country. Lightfoot and Brown have repeatedly condemned the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, saying what happened there had nothing to do with policing.

“God helps us if we miss this seminal moment to ensure Chicagoans are proud of their Police Department and proud of the brave and courageous men and women who risk their lives every day to protect all of us,” Brown said.

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