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Police Shooting Statistics Don't Add Up, City Watchdog Says

By  Ted Cox and Joe Ward | August 2, 2016 12:10pm 

 Inspector General Joe Ferguson said IPRA underreported non-hit police shootings and overreported shootings where police hit someone in the year prior to 2015.
Inspector General Joe Ferguson said IPRA underreported non-hit police shootings and overreported shootings where police hit someone in the year prior to 2015.
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DNAinfo/Ted Cox

CITY HALL — The Independent Police Review Authority provided "inaccurate and incomplete" statistics on the number of police-involved shootings in its reports prior to 2015, the city's inspector general said.

Inspector General Joe Ferguson's "Advisory Concerning the Independent Police Review Authority's Reporting of Use-of-Force Incidents" charged that IPRA quarterly reports from October 2013 through September 2014 "did not match the number of actual incidents."

The report said IPRA underreported the number of Police Department shootings where no one was hit by 49, and overreported the number of police shootings where someone was hit by four.

The Chicago Police Department said it was looking into how the cases were misreported. A spokesman said the department learned of the discrepancy Monday, and would need some time to review the cases that are from two-plus years ago.

Supt. Eddie Johnson said the department's procedure for reporting police-involved shootings has not changed.

"Any time we have a police office discharge a weapon or a TASER, our [Crime Prevention and Information Center] unit is notified and they push out the notification to IPRA," Johnson said.

During that time, Ferguson charged, IPRA drew no distinction between intentional and accidental shootings, and left out essential categories for the use of force, including incidents involving chokeholds.

In the immediate wake of the release of the Laquan McDonald police shooting video at the end of 2015, Mayor Rahm Emanuel shook up IPRA by removing Scott Ando as chief administrator and replacing him with Sharon Fairley. Ando was credited with cutting a backlog in investigations, but also had been accused of firing investigator Lorenzo Davis for refusing to change reports critical of police conduct — a practice Fairley insisted she would not repeat.

Since then, Emanuel's appointed Police Accountability Task Force has recommended that IPRA be disbanded and replaced by a civilian agency, a recommendation Emanuel has backed and that the City Council is working to address.

According to Ferguson's office, the Emanuel administration has agreed that whatever police oversight agency is created will work to achieve uniformity with Police Department data, and the Department will issue its own quarterly reports on the use of force as well.

Ferguson called accurate reporting on police use of force "crucial to fostering public trust through meaningful transparency and accountability." He urged the mayor and aldermen as well as the Department to "carry through on their stated commitment to building robust reporting now and forward going under the new oversight structures that are in consideration."

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