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Chicago Police Stops Down By 90 Percent As Gun Violence Skyrockets

By  Kelly Bauer and Mark Konkol | March 31, 2016 5:50am 

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File photo.
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Flickr/Erin Nekervis

CHICAGO — Police stops in Chicago are down nearly 90 percent as the Chicago Police Department continues to struggle with bad morale and incessant violence. 

From the start of the year to last week, police made only 20,908 recorded investigative stops, said Anthony Guglielmi, a Chicago Police Department spokesman. Over the same period last year, there were 157,346 recorded stops.

Police also are seizing fewer guns: just 1,316 so far this year, while 1,413 were seized over the same period last year, Guglielmi said.

At the same time, shootings across the city are up 80 percent, a DNAinfo Chicago analysis found. In 650 shootings so far this year, 123 people have been killed and 652 wounded. County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez has warned the city is on track to have 700 murders this year.

Guglielmi and Dean Angelo, the president of the Fraternal Order of Police, did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the decline in police stops.

But in mid-January, when DNAinfo first reported on the decline in police investigative stops and gun recoveries, sources said flagging officer morale was to blame. 

"I'll leave that up to the common sense of the citizens as to why things are not as productive ... investigative stop wise," Angelo said. "I've been out to roll calls, and so have our board of directors ... and what we're hearing is that officers think that the FOP is the only group of people who have their back. ... I've never seen things like this in my 35 years. ... I've never seen morale this bad in my career."

In the wake of the Laquan McDonald shooting, sources in January said officers want to avoid ending up in a bad situation while making proactive investigative stops, which has led to less aggressive policing. 

“Maybe they’re doing their job by some definition, but it’s the bare minimum. The data shows they’re not engaging in proactive policing,” a source who asked not to be identified said.

“I wouldn’t accuse them of being willfully irresponsible. But in this environment why would an officer make a stop unless they see a gun or witness a shooting? It’s going to get worse before it gets better,” the source said.

Another element of the slowdown, Angelo said: investigative stop reports, which became more detailed and time-consuming to fill out as part of an agreement with the ACLU.

The report paperwork has now been simplified, and stops are on the rise, according to The New York Times.

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