CHICAGO — The names and badge numbers of Chicago police officers — which must be included on the two-page form they complete every time they stop someone — will no longer be provided to the Chicago chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, officials said.
The form was part of a 2015 "landmark agreement" between the Chicago Police Department and the ACLU designed to reduce the number of unwarranted and unlawful stops and searches by Chicago police officers.
The agreement was prompted by an ACLU investigation that found that a disproportionate number of black and Latino Chicagoans were stopped by officers.
However, officers and leaders of the Fraternal Order of Police blame the time it takes to complete the form — and the increased scrutiny officers are under — for contributing to an 80 percent drop in the number of investigatory stops conducted by officers last year, when more than 730 people were slain in the city — the highest tally since Chicago's poorest communities were ravaged by crack cocaine and violence in the ’90s.
Police union officials said the move to shield officers’ identities — while still providing them to Police Department officials and the judge overseeing the agreement between the Police Department and the ACLU — is a “step in the right direction."
"Baby steps, I guess," said Dean Angelo, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7, which represents rank-and-file Chicago officers.
Angelo said officers were concerned that the ACLU would use information about specific officers to target them.
The change still won't reduce the time it takes officers to fill out the form, he said.
Angelo has said all along that the form should be scrapped and officers should be allowed to stop anyone they think should be investigated.
Ed Yohnka, a spokesman for the ACLU of Illinois, said the civil liberties watchdog did not oppose the change and wasn't interested in the actions of specific officers.
"We want to fix the systemic issues," Yohnka said. "This wasn't worth fighting."
Yohnka contends there is no connection between the rising murder rate and the drop in the number of investigatory stops by police. He said 250,000 stops conducted by police in 2014 found no criminal activity.
"All those stops did was drive a wedge between the police and the community," Yohnka said.
Despite the 80 percent drop in the number of police stops, Chicago police took 25 percent more guns off the street in 2016 than the previous year, Yohnka said.
On a "60 Minutes" interview earlier this month, former Police Supt. Garry McCarthy said many Chicago police officers were "doing the bare minimum to avoid accusations of wrongdoing."
While he was the city's top cop, McCarthy approved the agreement with the ACLU.
With the public outcry over controversial police shootings nationwide, a majority of officers now say they are less willing to stop and question suspicious people, and 86 percent say their work has become harder in the last year, according to a Pew survey.
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