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Expert: Justice Department Reforms Could Be Expensive For CPD, But Worth The Cost

CHICAGO (CBS) -- An expert on federal investigations of police department misconduct said the Justice Department's probe of Chicago police use of force likely will be a worthwhile process, but also a costly one.

University of Alabama School of Law assistant professor Stephen Rushin said when the Justice Department investigated the Los Angeles Police Department starting in the late 1990s, reforms were instituted resulting in a dramatic reduction in police misconduct.

The professor is completing a book called "The Answer To Police Misconduct," evaluating the use of federal reforms on police departments engaged in a pattern or practice of misconduct.

Rushin said the current situation in Chicago closely resembles the one in Los Angeles when the Justice Department launched the same type of "pattern and practice" investigation of police use of force.

"I'm a big fan of this. I really believe that this is the most powerful weapon that the federal government has when it comes to trying to incentivize reform in local police departments," he said.

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However, Rushin said such investigations must have the support of the police department and elected officials.

"These reforms are expensive. They require a municipality to dedicate scarce resources to the cause of police reform; towards additional manpower, additional training. They often require the implementation of new technological oversight systems," he said.

Rushin said court-ordered reforms imposed on the LAPD involved changing how it trains officers in the use of force, training officers how to de-escalate volatile situations without resorting to force, and teaching police how to deal with people suffering mental illness. He said the reforms cost the LAPD at least $100 million over 12 years.

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