APTOPIX Chicago Police
APTOPIX Chicago Police

The third-largest police department in the United States is plagued with racism and needs to make sweeping changes to win back trust in the community, according to a report released Wednesday.

An independent panel appointed by Chicago's Mayor Rahm Emanuel found the city's police force does little to get rid of officers, and routine encounters unnecessarily turn deadly.

The scathing report released by the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force said police in Chicago have "no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color.''

It found 74 percent of people killed or injured by Chicago police officers over the last eight years were African-American. In 2014, 72 percent of people stopped by police were black, even though African-Americans account for only 33 percent of the city's population.

Several hundred people protesting on the streets o
FILE - Several hundred people protesting on the streets of Chicago, Nov. 25, 2015, over a police video showing a white officer shooting a black teenager 16 times. (C. Presutti/VOA)

Emanuel created the task force last year in the aftermath of the court-ordered release of a police video that showed a white police officer shooting a black teenager 16 times on a city street.

The report was released the day the city council approved Eddie Johnson, an African-American and 27-year veteran of the department, as Chicago's top cop. 

"We have racism in America. We have racism in Chicago. So it stands to reason we would have some racism within our agency. My goal is to root that out,'' Johnson told reporters after he was sworn in.

Among the recommendations made by the panel to bring about the much-needed change in the department were hiring an inspector general, replacing the agency that is currently tasked with investigating police misconduct with a new civil organization, and putting all disciplinary information online so city residents can track complaints.

"Reform is possible if there is a will and a commitment,'' the report said. But change must start with an acknowledgement of Chicago policing's "sad history.''