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Black Officers Twice As Likely To Be Punished By CPD: Data

By Tanveer Ali | November 10, 2015 8:57am
 Invisible Institute, a Chicago journalism organization focused on government transparency, unveiled the Citizens Police Data Project, built on 56,361 misconduct cases made public in 2014 by a court decision.
Invisible Institute, a Chicago journalism organization focused on government transparency, unveiled the Citizens Police Data Project, built on 56,361 misconduct cases made public in 2014 by a court decision.
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Invisible Institute

CHICAGO — Less than 3 percent of misconduct complaints against Chicago Police officers have resulted in disciplinary action being taken, an analysis shows.

Invisible Institute, a Chicago journalism organization focused on government transparency, unveiled the Citizens Police Data Project, built on 56,361 misconduct cases made public in 2014 by a court decision.

The website features information about cases filed against 8,559 police officers between 2002 to 2008 as well as between March 2011 through March 2015.

Some of the findings in the data:

• More than 96 percent of allegations are dismissed and only 3 percent of all cases result in discipline. Most of those result in less than a week of suspension.

• The most prevalent category of complaints are related to First Amendment or illegal arrest violations. More than 36 percent of the nearly 13,000 cases filed in this category are found legitimate.

• Most officers, around 80 percent of the total force, have zero to four complaints, and approximately 90 percent receive zero to 10 complaints. But officers with more than 10 complaints — just 10 percent of all officers — have four times the amount of misconduct complaints per officer as the rest of the force.

•  When it comes to punishment, officers with more than 10 complaints against them are rarely disciplined. Only 0.05 percent (1 in 2,000) of the complaints result in punishment. 

• Black officers are disproportionately found guilty of offenses and suffer higher punishments. Black officers with sustained findings are punished more than twice as often as white officers.

“To be clear, this information does not tell us whether an officer is abusive or not,” said Jamie Kalven, the Invisible Institute's founder and the plaintiff who successfully sued for the information. “But what it does tell us is complaints are not being properly addressed, and until now, the public hasn’t been given the department’s own evidence of that.”

Anthony Guglielmi, Chicago Police spokesman, said that since 2011, the department has invested in a "police legitimacy and procedural justice" program aimed at stemming these complaints

Since implementing it, the number of complaints has dropped 50 percent, according to Guglielmi.

"The Department has implemented early warning systems to help identify potential concerns with officers' actions and arrange for the appropriate training, when applicable," he said in a statement.

"The most important pillar of the Chicago Police Department's crime strategy is to foster trust and positive interaction among the communities we serve," Guglielmi said.

The data is now searchable, but that came after a long fight. While the city agreed to release the list of misconduct complaints, the police union fought the release in court.

Explore all the findings here.

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