EDITOR'S NOTE: NBC Chicago will offer a live stream of the announcement live at 10 a.m. CT right here.
The U.S. Justice Department will release its report on the Chicago Police Department Friday, just one week before President Barack Obama leaves office.
It is expected the Justice Department will find that there have been systemic constitutional rights abuses by Chicago police, though further details surrounding the report remain unclear.
Investigators worked to complete the 13-month probe before Obama’s presidency ended, but it remains unclear how Donald Trump's administration might handle the recommendations in the report.
Federal investigators arrived in Chicago soon after the release of high-profile dashcam footage showing the shooting of a teenager by a police officer, which quickly prompted outrage around the world and distrust of police in Chicago, even as violence was starting to spike.
The video, released in December 2015, showed the fatal shooting of Chicago teen Laquan McDonald. He was shot 16 times by a police officer while appearing to walk away. What was captured in the dashcam contradicted many of the accounts of the shooting Chicago police officers gave to investigators.
In the months following the release of the footage, the city saw its top cop fired, the Cook County state's attorney replaced after a failed re-election bid, an officer charged with murder and several others still facing discipline.
While the Laquan McDonald shooting was not the only hot-button issue facing police as the Justice Department began its probe, the shocking video was the tipping point, setting the entire examination of the Chicago Police Department in motion.
The shooting nearly went unnoticed. The initial police report claimed McDonald lunged at Officer Jason Van Dyke with a knife before the officer opened fire in self-defense. It wasn’t until 13 months later, after protracted fights in court, that the dashcam video was released.
More high-profile shooting incidents took place even as the Justice Department probe was underway. And a judge ruled Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel had to testify in a case centering on an alleged "code of silence" within the police department; the city quickly settled that case for $2 million.
Over the last year, the city has announced a series of police reforms, along with plans to hire additional officers and provide new training and body cameras.
“I didn’t think when it came to training our officers, giving them technology like body cameras or Tasers, that we should wait,” Emanuel said Thursay.
Emanuel said he hasn’t seen the Justice Department's report, but plans to embrace what it has to say and continue to building on reforms that have already been put in place.
“Our officers are being asked to do a very difficult job in very trying areas,” Emanuel said Thursday. “Change is very hard—we’re making changes—and the biggest thing we can do to help our officers is support them.”
A similar investigation to the one launched in Chicago was also made in Baltimore in 2015, where the Department of Justice found violations among its police force. On Thursday, Attorney General Loretta Lynch signed a consent decree in the city, requiring Baltimore police to make changes to its practices.
“The Department of Justice will stand with you to ensure the reforms of this consent decree are implemented and our shared vision of a greater, safer and stronger Baltimore are realized,” she said.
The Chicago and Baltimore probes are among several conducted by the Justice Department during the Obama administration, which has made civil rights a priority. Many of those investigations have resulted in consent decrees.
It remains unclear if Chicago will face a consent decree following the report’s release on Friday, and some civil rights advocates are concerned about whether the Trump administration will enforce similar policies.
U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions said at his confirmation hearing for attorney general this week that he believes officers should be held accountable for their actions, but expressed concern that an entire department could be defamed over the actions of only a few.
Photo Credit: NBC Chicago
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