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'ACLU Effect' Has Nothing To Do With Spike In Chicago Murders, ACLU Says

By DNAinfo Staff | February 1, 2016 9:07am
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Flickr/Erin Nekervis

CHICAGO — The American Civil Liberties Union says it rejects the idea that changes in the way Chicago Police work the streets has led to an "ACLU Effect" and a rise in gun violence and murder.

The ACLU helped negotiate a change in the way officers report investigative street stops. Since then, those stops have dropped dramatically.

The Sun-Times quoted unnamed officers saying they are suffering from an "ACLU Effect," leading to less policing and more crime.

Karen Sheley, the ACLU of Illinois' Director of Police Practices Project, issued a statement Monday morning dismissing that idea.

"We reject any suggestion of a so-called 'ACLU effect' to explain the recent spike in gun violence on Chicago's streets," Sheley said.

"There is no any discernible link between the rate of invasive street stops and searches by police and the level of violence. Indeed, when such stops dramatically decreased in other cities, like New York City, we saw no such rise in crime. There simply is not any evidence of this so-called 'effect.' Rather, there are many complicated, interrelated things going on currently with crime and policing in the City of Chicago, issues playing out in the news and on the streets each day. ”

DNAinfo's Mark Konkol last month reported that the investigative stops had dropped by 80 percent since the rules, including a far longer report that has to be filled out, went into effect. Meanwhile, murders and shootings have spiked compared to January 2015.

The ACLU says there are many factors at play.

"Chicago police are under increasing scrutiny for use of force and a culture of silence," Sheley said. "It is wrong to suggest that an effort to advance constitutional policing, transparency and oversight of police is the cause of a spike in violence over a relatively short period of time. Policing can be constitutional and effective and Chicago deserves no less
"Finally, we would remind the public that these stops can be very problematic.  The stops are intrusive and can be very embarrassing. They often involve an individual being stopped and frisked while up against a wall or a car, in clear view of others and often (as our study shows) with little or no justification.  This sort of unjustified search creates conflict and mistrust between the community and the police -- a bond that must be repaired in Chicago, not further exacerbated.  While some may resist change, better documentation and training are important steps toward a CPD that respects the rights of citizens and helps our communities become safer."


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