+ How is the Chicago Police Department Structured and Governed
Chicago has one of the country’s largest police forces, employing the most officers per resident of the ten largest American cities. The overall structure, size and governance of the force has remained relatively stable over the last few decades, though Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration has enacted some substantial restructuring. Two major pressures have marked the force since Mayor Richard M. Daley’s retirement in 2011. First, serious budget pressures, driven in part by public sector pensions, have forced the city to try to cut police costs. Second, Emanuel’s campaign promise to increase the number of police officers has put pressure on his administration to either hire more police or produce a meaningful drop in crime.
Size and Relationships to Other Agencies
Currently, the Chicago Police Department employs 12,034 sworn officers, a figure which includes both patrol officers and supervisors. The number of officers is not a perfect measure of the department’s manpower, since the CPD frequently uses overtime to fill personnel gaps. After Chicago made national headlines when it recorded 500 murders in 2012, the department paid for $100 million in overtime in 2013, which was triple the budgeted amount. For reference, sworn CPD officers made about $1 billion in total base salaries in 2014.
The CPD is the second largest city police force in the U.S. (after New York). It also has more officers per person than any city with more than a million residents. Still, Chicago has the second highest murder rate among these cities (after Philadelphia) and the third highest violent crime rate (after Philadelphia and Houston).
The CPD works alongside a number of other agencies. The Cook County Sheriff’s Department boasts 6,900 deputies, who patrol unincorporated parts of the county, oversee pretrial detention, and provide other services. The Sheriff’s Department generally leaves policing in Chicago to the CPD, but is an important independent partner, especially given that the Sheriff (unlike the CPD superintendent) is an elected official.
The CPD also works regularly with anti-drug elements of the FBI, the Metra Police, and private police forces, mainly the roughly 400 officers employed by universities.
Chicago Police Ranks
The CPD is divided into a system of ranks that differentiate between types of officers and also designate command authority:
Police Officers– The majority of sworn officers fall into this category. Officers conduct patrols, respond to calls, and serve in a variety of other roles as needed.
Detectives/Specialists – These officers handle investigations or work in specialized divisions that target issues like gangs or violent crimes. They are not considered higher ranking than normal police officers, though some supervisors also hold detective status. Chicago’s data portal does not provide an exact breakdown, but the CPD currently employs 10,634 police officers of all types, including 808 detectives.
Sergeants – These are lower-level supervisors who work alongside patrol officers and detectives. Sergeants oversee groups of officers and are the immediate supervisors for many officers. The CPD has 1,138 sergeants.
Lieutenants – These are mid-level supervisors who help run Chicago’s police districts and larger teams. One lieutenant may handle a daily watch for an entire police district. The CPD has 194 lieutenants.
Captains – The 32 captains serve as senior officers, usually in support of a particular commander.
Commander – These senior officers are each in charge of one of the city’s 22 police districts or a major department. These officers often take the lead in setting policing priorities and style for a given district. The CPD has 36 commanders.
Chiefs – Beyond commanders, the CPD has 18 deputy chiefs, six chiefs, plus the first deputy superintendent. Many of these officials head administrative or support departments, though some oversee groups of commanders.
Superintendent – The head of the CPD is appointed by the mayor. Unlike most other posts, the superintendent often comes from outside the department. The head of the CPD sets the tone for the organization and serves as its most visible face. Superintendents tend to have relatively short tenures (particularly compared to Chicago mayors), partly because they are convenient scapegoats or symbols of change. Philip Cline retired early amid a flurry of police brutality allegations and Rahm Emanuel brought Garry McCarthy to Chicago – he was head of Newark’s police – at the start of his first term.
CPD Superintendent and Cook County Sheriff Tenure
Districts and Bureaus
The CPD is split into bureaus. Five major bureaus report to the first deputy superintendent: Patrol, Detectives, Organized Crime, Organizational Development, and Administration. A number of smaller offices (News, Internal Affairs, Legal) also report directly to the superintendent. Patrol is the largest bureau, with roughly 7,000 officers and is responsible for maintaining Chicago’s district stations and responding to calls. Most of the remaining 5,000 officers work as detectives, anti-gang officers, or other specialists.
Most of Chicago’s patrol officers are assigned to one of 22 districts. The districts set local policing priorities and officers typically handle cases within their specific geographic footprint. Districts are fairly compact and often roughly align with neighborhood boundaries.
The Districts are also grouped into three larger areas: North, South, and Central. Detectives and some specialists are assigned to these areas instead of districts. Some units, like the narcotics division and the transit division, are not directly assigned to a geographic region.
Links: CPD Organizational Chart, Map of the Police Districts, Map of Aldermanic Wards
Reorganization and Recent Changes
The CPD’s structure and size have been relatively stable over the last few decades, though recently the Emanuel administration has begun to initiate some changes.
First, the department consolidated several districts in an effort to reduce administrative and building costs. For example, the Prairie District surrounding the University of Chicago was merged into a neighboring district.
In this case, the CPD specifically designed the Prairie District to serve the University. It was less compact than other districts and notably swerves to avoid including the area to the west of the University that included the Robert Taylor Homes.
Beyond district changes, Rahm Emanuel campaigned for mayor with a promise to hire 1,000 new police officers. After he won office, he decided that figure was unreasonable and instead transferred officers from desk duty, disbanded task forces, and increased overtime spending.
These measures were meant to increase manpower while addressing another major issue: the department’s costs.
Chicago has major pension issues and the benefits for the police force play a significant role. In addition to their normal pay, the police have fairly generous pension and medical benefits, in part due to their popularity and strong union. Emanuel has worked to move officers to the street in part because replacing them with non-police personnel reduces the city’s pension obligations, since most workers are not eligible for equally generous benefits. Overtime spending has the same effect, allowing the mayor to increase the number of police on the street without increasing pension costs. Over Emanuel’s time in office, police levels have remained stable.
Chicago has had other police forces in the past. In 1989, the city created a separate police force for the Chicago Housing Authority, due to the difficulty of policing the city’s major housing projects. The hundreds-strong CHA force was predominantly African American and operated as an independent police force, complete with command structure and support staff. In 1999, the city disbanded the force, laying off the 365 remaining officers. These officers were not merged into the CPD.
By Andrew Fan
Updated: March 20, 2016
+ What Do the Chicago Police Department Directives say About Policing in Chicago
Like all other police officers in the country, the Chicago police must adhere to a set of rules and guidelines known as the police directives. The directives not only act as testable material that all cops must know in order to be police officers, but also as a code of conduct for how officers are supposed to respond to certain situations. Furthermore, they spell out the chain of command, order of rank, order of succession and brief job descriptions and responsibilities of certain offices.
The CPD directives are organized into seven main sections: General Orders, Special Orders, Employee Resources, Uniform and Property, Other Directives, Resources, and Appendices. Directives cover everything from officer beats, districts, and sectors, how to deal with non-English speaking individuals, how to respond to transgender, intersex and gender non-conforming individuals, to proper uniform policies.
Recently the department’s Use of Force guidelines have come under fire, especially with the Department of Justice announcing a probe in late 2015 into the patterns and practices of the department which may be violating the civil rights of Chicagoans. The directive gives descriptions of situations in which different types of force may be used—from “social control” (the simple presence of an officer), to “verbal control,” to forms of physical control with and without weapons. However, “The reasonableness of a particular use of force will be judged under the totality of the circumstances viewed from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene.” Thus, there is room for divergence from the Use of Force model based on the officer’s discretion.
CPD directives can and have been updated on an individual basis, and they can all be viewed publicly at this website. Clicking on a certain section allows you to see this. For instance, the department’s current directive concerning complaint and disciplinary procedures was issued on March 11, 2013 and was updated from the December 11, 2010 version.
Based on multiple reports conducted by the Chicago Tribune, the five most common lawsuits against CPD are unlawful use of deadly force, officer misconduct, using racial slurs, racial profiling and false arrest. CPD has been criticized for having an overly expansive use of deadly force policy, which, among other reasons, allows officers to fire at somebody who has “committed or has attempted to commit a forcible felony.” Under these guidelines, police could potentially shoot and kill somebody who they believe has recently attempted armed robbery.
Under the Human Rights and Human Resources directive, officers are forbidden from exhibiting any bias towards citizens based on color. The third point under the policy reads, “Members will not exhibit any bias or prejudice against an individual or group because of race, color, gender, age, religion, disability, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, marital status, parental status, military discharge status, or source of income. Members will not exhibit a condescending attitude or direct any derogatory terms toward any person in any manner.” There is also another section entitled the Prohibition Regarding Racial Profiling and Other Bias that states all officers must refrain from participating in racial or other bias based profiling.
According to a 2016 Chicago Tribune report, while the city pays out millions of dollars a year because of lawsuits against CPD, the officers are hardly ever disciplined. Under the Prohibition Regarding Racial Profiling and Other Bias Based Policing section, supervisors are to conduct investigations into all complaints to ensure there was no wrongdoing on the officer’s part.
By Kristin Brown
Updated: March 20, 2016
+ Why Are Consent Decrees Important in Chicago's Recent (and Ongoing) Department of Justice Investigation?
Since the U.S. Department of Justice announced a formal investigation of the Chicago Police Department’s use of force and accountability structures in December, speculation has surrounded the outcome of what is expected to be a lengthy review process.
If past investigations conducted by the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division are an indication, the CPD could find itself subject to a consent decree, a binding legal agreement that would outline expected reforms. A decree, and the accompanying federal oversight, could lead to substantial changes in how the CPD uses force and handles complaints about discrimination, but could also spur a revolt among the department’s rank and file and cost Chicago taxpayers millions of dollars.
The Justice Department’s investigation, which may take up to several years, could lead to several different outcomes. Some cases have ended without formal action or with a non-binding reform agreement. In cases where investigators find serious violations, the Justice Department can file a lawsuit to demand changes. In most cases, the police and the government instead agree to a legally binding set of reforms, typically overseen by a federal monitor.
The use of consent decrees in policing dates to 1994, when Congress passed a law authorizing federal investigations of local police departments in the wake of the Rodney King riots. Since then, the Justice Department has initiated nearly 70 formal probes. With the approval of a consent decree in Ferguson, Missouri, on March 15, the Justice Department now monitors 14 departments, including the police in Seattle, New Orleans and Cleveland.
The record of consent decrees is mixed. In 2001, the Los Angeles Police and the Justice Department reached a wide-ranging agreement that included training changes, civil rights reform and better management of gang units. When the federal monitor lifted the decree 12 years later, a comprehensive review by Harvard researchers found major improvements. Their study declared that “community engagement and partnership is now part of the mainstream culture of the Department.”
An intervention in Detroit was less successful. In 2000, the city’s mayor requested an investigation following a six-year period where city police shot and killed nearly 50 people and another 19 people died while being detained. After a two-year probe and an 11-year consent decree, police shootings and detainee deaths dropped, but residents complain that officers frequently ignore new use-of-force rules and that the department’s internal investigations are still deeply flawed. Today, Detroit remains under partial supervision, over 15 years since the start of the investigatory process.
The use of consent decrees in other cities has several implications for Chicago. First, the process is a long and expensive undertaking. Los Angeles spent an estimated $300 million to complete reforms; a Tribune report puts the potential cost to implement reforms, if they are similar to Los Angeles’, at $100 million. Those costs could be a major issue for Chicago, though reforms also might reduce the amount the city pays to settle lawsuits against the police, which totaled over $500 million between 2004 and 2014.
Second, political support is essential for the success of a consent decree. In Los Angeles, community activists worked with Bill Bratton, a respected police chief, to enact reforms, overcoming a lawsuit from LAPD officers. In Detroit, federal oversight led to the creation of new policies and procedures, but limited funds and persistent internal resistance have helped stall deeper reforms.
Chicago’s situation has similarities with both cities. Deep public frustration with the police helped unseat incumbent State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez and Mayor Rahm Emanuel has grudgingly welcomed the federal investigation in the face of relentless activist pressure.
Still, Chicago Fraternal Order of Police (the police union) is a powerful presence in the city and has previously resisted reform efforts. The FOP has already sued to destroy police complaint records from before 2011 and elected to fund the legal defense of former CPD commander Jon Burge, who ran a police torture ring in the 1970s and 1980s.
A federal consent decree could transform the CPD, but it could also set City Hall on a collision course with its own police force. As reform efforts in other cities have shown, only a city leadership firmly committed to reform and willing to spend money and political capital can hope to have a shot at long-lasting change.
By Andrew Fan
Updated: March 20, 2016
+ What Happened in the Case of Rekia Boyd and CPD Detective Dante Servin? (TIMELINE)
March 21, 2012
Early in the morning, off-duty police officer Dante Servin saw a large group of people (around 60 to 70) making noise at Douglas Park near 15th Place while driving home. Servin then called 911 to complain about the group. Around 1 a.m., Servin left his home to get something to eat, carrying an unregistered 9-millimeter Glock on his right hip.
As he drove into an alley just west of Albany Avenue, Servin saw a group of four people: Antonio Cross, Rekia Boyd, Mantise Stevenson and Icka Beamon, who were walking back after a night out. Servin and Cross had a heated exchange (Cross thought Servin was looking to buy drugs). Cross was two to three feet away from the car. He reached into his pocket to make a phone call, but Servin thought he was reaching for a gun. Servin fired shots over his left shoulder. The first round struck Cross in the right hand. There was a short pause in the gunfire. Servin continued to fire several rounds, which struck Rekia Boyd in the back of her head as she was trying to flee.
March 22, 2012
Rekia Boyd, 22, dies due to a gunshot wound to the head at Mount Sinai Hospital. Cross is charged with misdemeanor aggravated assault against Servin.
The family of Rekia Boyd files a lawsuit against the City of Chicago and Dante Servin.
The Independent Police Review Authority notifies the office of Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez of the incident.
Boyd’s family and community activists begin protesting Chicago Police Board meetings, calling for action against Servin.
Investigation into the incident continues.
State prosecutors re-enact the incident with Servin, which Servin thought would be preparation for a court appearance against Cross. The meeting ultimately shifted the focus from Cross to Servin, as prosecutors advised the officer that he had a right to an attorney or to not say anything at all.
Charges against Cross are dropped.
March 3, 2013
The Chicago City Council approves a civil lawsuit against the City of Chicago and Servin, granting the Boyd family $4.5 million. Media reports note that the city denies culpability in the settlement.
November 25, 2013
State prosecutors indict Servin on four counts, including involuntary manslaughter (count one) and reckless discharge of a firearm (counts two, three and four). The primary charge carries a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison.
Servin is stripped of his police powers until the trial concludes.
December 3, 2014
Servin appears before the court wherein the presiding judge Dennis Porter announces that the trial would not begin until January 21, 2015.
April 9, 2015
The trial against Servin begins. Proceedings take place at the Cook County Criminal Courthouse on 26th and California.
State prosecutors contend that Servin fired five rounds from his gun intentionally but was reckless, shooting at the group unprovoked, while in a moving car. Servin shot his gun while still in his car, he did not identify himself as a police officer to the group, and even if he perceived Cross as a threat, he did not tell him to drop his weapon, prosecutors say.
The defense claims that Servin’s actions were standard and that he felt fear, thinking that the object in Cross’s hand that night was a gun, not a cellphone. (No weapon was ever recovered from the scene.) Defense attorney Darren O’Brien cross-examined both Antonio Cross and Boyd’s friend Icka Beamon; Beamon said that she was mad at Cross for arguing with Servin and that it was possible that Cross waved his cellphone at Servin in a threatening manner.
April 16, 2015
Prosecutors rest their case; in a routine move, Servin’s defense team requests a directed verdict by the judge, claiming that the prosecution did not present enough evidence for the trial to proceed.
April 21, 2015
To the surprise of many, Judge Porter grants the defense’s request for a directed verdict and acquits Servin of all four charges. The reasoning is that the prosecution under-charged Servin; rather than claiming involuntary manslaughter, the prosecution should have charged him for murder, Porter says. Outraged protesters take to the streets again.
September 17, 2015
IPRA recommends Servin be fired.
November 23, 2015
Chicago police Superintendent Garry McCarthy officially agrees with IPRA’s decision and recommends that the Police Board fire Servin. Servin can only be disciplined directly by the Police Board after a formal hearing.
March 17, 2016
Chicago Police Board President Lori Lightfoot announces a hearing for Servin scheduled for May 19. Servin remains on the Chicago police force.
Issue: Did Servin shoot his gun with the intent to kill or were his actions self-defense because he was afraid for his life?
Rationale: In his seven page decision, Judge Porter focused on differentiating the following three charges: first degree murder, second degree murder and involuntary manslaughter, and whether or not the prosecution was able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Servin’s actions met the criteria of the indictment of involuntary manslaughter.
The four criteria that must be proven in order for a judge to execute a charge of involuntary manslaughter: (1) the defendant must have performed a criminal act unintentionally; (2) the defendant knew that act would cause great bodily harm; (3) the use of force was unjustified and (4) the act was reckless. Porter concluded that the prosecution proved the first three propositions unequivocally. Porter’s decision is determined ultimately by the law’s definition of “recklessness” and whether or not this case was applicable. Citing three Illinois court cases, the law indicates that the act of firing a gun is beyond the definition of recklessness. Porter concluded that the prosecution failed to prove Servin’s recklessness, leading to the acquittal.
By Eleanore Catolico
Updated: March 20, 2016
+ How Does the Cook County Criminal Justice System Work? (GENERAL)
The city of Chicago has one of the oldest and largest criminal justice systems in the world, and keeping track of how officials get elected or appointed can get lost in the bureaucracy. The city has repeatedly tried to recover from federal investigations of corruption.
The Cook County Circuit Court has more than 400 judges, making it the largest of 24 circuit courts in the state of Illinois. The court handles over 2 million cases per year, which are divided among the county, municipal, and juvenile & child departments.
There are currently 254 circuit judges who were elected from the county or from one of the 15 subcircuits. Each term lasts six years. When there is a vacancy, the Illinois Supreme Court will appoint a judge and his or her name must appear on the ballot in the subsequent election.
The Illinois Supreme Court also appoints circuit judges to the Illinois Appellate Court. Seven out of the 18 judges who are presently serving in the Appellate Court’s First District (Cook) come from the circuit bench. The remaining justices are elected.
Circuit judges have the authority to appoint associate judges. Associate judges, currently 145 of them, can hear any case that is not criminal (with some exceptions). The circuit judges additionally handpick a Chief Judge who will delegate assignments. Timothy C. Evans is the first black Chief Judge and has held that position since 2001.
The Clerk of the Circuit Court manages the extensive paperwork and filing processes of the busy court. Dorothy Brown was elected clerk in the year 2000 and just won a fifth term in the March 2016 primary.
In 1960, Mayor Daley formed a five-member Police Board that would make recommendations to Chicago’s police department, nominate superintendents, enact rules and regulations, make budget proposals and discipline officers. Today, the board continues to do that as a body made of nine private citizens who are appointed by the mayor.
The Cook County Sheriff’s Office has nearly 7,000 members when at full capacity. The Chief Executive is Tom Dart and every four years he seeks re-election. The department patrols unincorporated areas of the county and assists smaller police agencies in the suburbs. The Department of Corrections is also a division of the Sheriff’s Office and is a huge pre-trial holding facility. All deputies are sworn officers who perform law enforcement functions irrespective of municipal borders.
Finally, the Cook County State’s Attorney Office has close to 900 attorneys who prosecute misdemeanor and felony cases. Anita Alvarez was elected to State’s Attorney in 2008 and lost the vote to Kim Foxx in the March 2016 primary.
By Jackie Serrato
Updated: March 20, 2016
+ What is the Legal History of the Chicago Police Data Project?
The release of the documents that eventually led to the Chicago Police Data Project started with two lawsuits, Bond v. Utreras and Moore v. Smith (sometimes referred to as Moore v. City of Chicago), both in the federal district court for Northern Illinois. Both cases involved allegations of police misconduct against citizens, and as a part of discovery, lawyers requested lists of Chicago Police Department officers with multiple accusations of police misconduct on their record.
In the Bond case, when these documents were released in court, they were marked confidential. In Bond, reporter Jamie Kalven petitioned to intervene and moved the court to strike the confidential designation of these documents. In doing this, Kalven based his claim on Rule 26c of Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, instead of the First Amendment or common law. Rule 26c presumes that the public can access to discovery materials, however it says that protective orders over documents could be issued in the event of a “good cause.” Additionally, defendants argued that the Illinois Freedom of Information Act and IPRA prohibited the disclosure of the documents. Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow ruled that Kalven’s request should be granted, as the privacy concerns of the defendants are diminished due to their status as public servants. This would have allowed for the release of misconduct lists from 2001 to 2006. However, on appeal, the 7th Circuit Court stayed that motion, claiming that these documents could be sought under the Illinois Freedom of Information Act which made it a state matter.
Under the Illinois FOIA law, “all records in the custody or possession of a public body are presumed to be open to inspection or copying.” There is a list of exemptions, and if a person is denied documents requested under FOIA he or she can file a lawsuit to have said documents released.
The Moore trial followed a similar path, where Judge Valdez in 2008 ordered the release of lists of officers with more than five allegations of misconduct ranging from 2002 to 2008.
In 2009, Jamie Kalven submitted FOIA requests, asking for CPD’s lists of officers with repeat claims of misconduct. The CPD denied those requests, stated that they were exempt from being released under FOIA, and so Kalven filed a lawsuit asking that these documents be released. The Illinois circuit court where Kalven’s lawsuit was first heard found that some files were exempt from disclosure while others weren’t. Upon appeal, the Illinois Appellate Court ruled that the files were not exempt from FOIA and should be released.
The documents were released and Kalven’s Chicago Police Data Project was created as a searchable database for the public to peruse in late 2015. Following the Kalven v. City of Chicago ruling, reporters with the Chicago Tribune requested police misconduct lists dating back to 1967 and the Chicago Police Department agreed to release them. In response to this, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 7, the Chicago chapter of the police union, filed a breach of contract lawsuit, claiming that the release of documents violated privacy protections in their contract. Judge Peter Flynn issued an injunction preventing the release of the lists, which is currently on appeal.
By Adia Robinson
Updated: March 20, 2016
+ What Police Complaint Records are Available Across the United States?
The availability of police misconduct records varies from state to state. In some states, these records are entirely confidential because they’re protected as personnel files or covered under other privacy protections. In others, the availability of records is limited, due to legal confusion or a difference between de jure statutes and de facto policies. In a few states, police misconduct records are entirely public, although in some cases there are still stipulations.
According to a WNYC report that gathered information about the state-by-state availability of police misconduct records, there are more states where misconduct records are available to the public (often on a limited basis) than states with completely confidential records (27 states to 23 states). However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t obstacles to releasing police misconduct files in the 27 states with limited or public misconduct records.
Twenty-three states (and the District of Columbia) have completely confidential police misconduct records. These states are: Maryland, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Delaware, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Alaska, and California. Of those states, four (California, New York, Delaware, and Pennsylvania) have laws that state that police misconduct records are confidential. For the rest of these states, police misconduct files are either exempt from release under state FOIAs or there are individual state statutes protecting the privacy of public employees. In Colorado and Alaska, police misconduct files aren’t explicitly confidential, but police departments routinely deny access to these documents. Although police misconduct files are confidential in Missouri, this might change due to a July 2015 Missouri Court of Appeals ruling stating that police officers have no privacy interest regarding their misconduct files.
When it comes to the 15 states where police misconduct files are limited in their availability, the situation varies more from state to state. Generally, the availability depends on the reason behind requesting the documents, but some legal battles have complicated the availability of documents. States where police misconduct files are limited in their availability are: Massachusetts, Vermont, South Carolina, Michigan, Kentucky, Indiana, West Virginia, Illinois, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Hawaii, and Oklahoma. In Massachusetts, official records of police misconduct are exempt, but complaints against officers and internal affairs investigations are public, and in Kentucky departments usually provide heavily redacted records listing disciplinary action, but not the specific complaints leading to said disciplinary action. In Michigan, records are frequently withheld under privacy exemptions under FOIA, and in Tennessee they’re not explicitly exempt, but many departments frequently withhold records. In Texas and Arkansas, access to documents depends on the situation. Vermont, South Carolina, West Virginia, Illinois, Louisiana, New Mexico, and Hawaii, have litigation overruling privacy exemptions and making misconduct records at least partially available.
In the 12 states with public police misconduct records, disciplinary records are public, but some restrict records of unsubstantiated claims or ongoing investigations. These states are: Maine, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Ohio, Alabama, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota, Arizona, Utah, and Washington. In Connecticut a 1993 State Supreme Court ruling made it more difficult to successfully withhold records.
When it comes to rates of police misconduct, according to the 2010 National Police Misconduct Reporting Project, 22 states have rates of police misconduct higher than the national average of 977.98 officers reported per 100,000 officers. These states are (in order of lowest to highest) South Carolina, Ohio, Hawaii, Florida, New Hampshire, Utah, Vermont, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Oregon, Indiana, Tennessee, New Mexico, Alaska, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Mississippi, Montana, and Louisiana. The five states with the lowest rate of police misconduct are Kansas, Maine, Virginia, Arkansas, and Iowa. It’s unclear if higher rates of police misconduct are related to the availability of police misconduct files. Of the 22 states with the highest rates of police misconduct, seven have confidential police misconduct files, nine have limited police misconduct files, and three have public misconduct files. Of the five states with the lowest misconduct rates, three have confidential misconduct files, one has limited misconduct files, and one has public misconduct files. It’s likely that there are other issues at play when it comes to the rate of police misconduct, like the fact that only a limited number of cases of misconduct are reported.
There are a few other databases of police misconduct records. The Legal Aid Society in New York is currently creating a “cop accountability” database, which contains accusations of misconduct for 3,000 NYPD officers. Bowling Green State University criminologist Philip M Stinson, a former police officer, has built a database tracking incidents of officer misconduct going back to 2005. While the National Police Misconduct Reporting Project, sponsored by the Cato Institute, still collects information about police misconduct, their last national database of police misconduct was in 2010.
By Adia Robinson
Updated: March 20, 2016
+ How are Police Complaints Filed and Processed? (FLOWCHART)
+ What Happens When a Police Complaint is Sustained? (FLOWCHART)
+ What Role Do Judged Play in the Cook County Justice System?
Likely the area of the Chicago/Cook County criminal justice system that everyday citizens (and journalists) understand the least is the court system, which is the largest unified court system in the world. Some 400 judges serve on Cook County Circuit Court, which is made up of six districts and 15 subcircuits. (For the purposes of elections, subcircuits are strictly defined areas that a judicial candidate must live in to qualify for, though many have tried to skirt that requirement.) Though so few voters are familiar with its workings, they play a significant role in how citizens and police officers are convicted and almost never convicted of crimes, respectively.
Many judges make unpopular or controversial rulings, such as the Criminal Division judges profiled by Injustice Watch here, but there is little accountability. A separate Injustice Watch investigation found, “It commonly takes years to act against judges who violate the Illinois Code of Judicial Conduct, and the punishment seldom is more than a public reprimand.” The Judicial Inquiry Board, the body that oversees the Circuit Court, has had its budget slashed and its backlog grow since 2010. The Board receives about 442 complaints a year, and has 311 pending. The issue of funding for judicial review boards is an issue nationwide. “I don’t think any of them have enough [money] to do a thorough job, in particular, since they’re constantly being criticized for not doing a better job,” Cynthia Gray, director of the Center for Judicial Ethics at the National Center for State Courts, told Injustice Watch. “It does cost money to do a good job.”
According to Injustice Watch, no complaints with the Board have ever resulted in criminal charges, despite evidence suggesting a wealth of corruption within Cook County judges. To date, there have been three federal investigations into corruption in Chicago and Cook County that have resulted in at least one judge being indicted: Operation Incubator, Operation Gambat, and Operation Graylord, which resulted in 17 Cook County judges being indicted and 15 convicted. Cook County Court Clerk Dorothy Brown has been wrapped up in a corruption scandal as well, with the federal government investigation her office for allegations of “pay-to-play” promotions and hiring practices.
Though no recent Cook County State’s Attorneys have become judges, the rumored prosecutor-to-judge pipeline exists elsewhere, and is worrying. In November, the Ocala, Florida, Star-Banner reported that ten of the 15 circuit judges in Marion County, which contains Ocala, are former prosecutors, though there’s little hard evidence that they are biased towards finding with the state.
The biggest problem facing the judicial system is its size. During elections, like the one Cook County just held, many voters are unfamiliar with the vast amount of judicial candidates and vote based on party affiliation or perceived ethnicity or gender, or don’t vote at all, though many bar associations, as well as newspapers, vet and endorse candidates. As noted by Injustice Watch, a nonprofit news outlet that covers the Cook County criminal justice system, three judges nominated by Cook County voters in the March primaries received “not recommended” ratings from bar associations, meaning that they declined to be vetted entirely, and bested candidates who did receive endorsements. And, as Dan Webb, the prosecutor in Operation Graylord, noted, “In terms of institutional impact, Greylord has been a miserable failure. Judges are still elected to the bench by political parties and kept there by party-dominated retention elections.” Without reforms to make the system clearer for voters and without the pressures of the political system, it is unlikely any of the major problems facing the Cook County court system will be remedied anytime soon.
By Sam Stecklow
Updated: March 20, 2016
+ What is CompStat?
The implementation of CompStat into police departments nationwide drastically changed the tactical focus of policing from “reactive,” addressing the fallout of crimes committed after the fact, to “preventative,” using data analysis to identify and map relevant crime trends in high impact zones in order to address problems more efficiently. It’s evolved from an analytical tool to a comprehensive performance management system that has had a deep influence on police authority, culture and politics.
CompStat was originally developed by the New York Police Department in the early 1990s. Fears of surging criminal activity in the city led to the ouster of the incumbent mayor and the election of Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani’s appointment of William Bratton as NYPD police commissioner paved the way for a new vision for the department. Bratton, along with NYPD officer Jack Maple, developed CompStat, a performance management system that gathered timely intelligence on crime in real time. As crimes or patterns of crimes were in progress, the department had the time to implement a crime reduction strategy. The pillars of CompStat define a network of communications between high ranking officers and street cops that created a systemic focus on policing based on: “timely and accurate intelligence,” “rapid deployment,” “effective tactics,” and “relentless follow up.” NYPD’s use of CompStat led to significant drops in crime rates in the city, and by all accounts, proved to be effective. Law enforcement agencies across the country sought to mimic the NYPD’s successes.
In 2011, Emmanuel called on Garry McCarthy to succeed Jody Weis as the CPD’s first in command. McCarthy, as a way to shake up the organization’s failings to mitigate Chicago’s staggering crime rates, instituted a CompStat system in Chicago. It was developed internally by his aide and confidant Chief Robert Tracy, who operated as CompStat’s chief of tactical operations. In a 2013 interview with the Police Executive Research Forum, McCarthy emphasized that CompStat was not an end but a means: “CompStat is not a solution. It’s a method to obtain solutions.” The focus of the CPD’s CompStat program addressed internal issues with officer accountability and intelligence gathering.
For instance, the CompStat model of accountability, for better or for worse, reinforces traditional police hierarchy by establishing policing objectives for each district police commander that must be achieved. CPD, pre-CompStat, did not have those accountability structures in place within the department. So, according to Tracy, CPD decided to make city wide units, those units tasked to fight crime across the city, to be under the authority of district commanders, who previously had no authority of these units. On the one hand, the assignment of these units to the district commanders gave these officials necessary resources, but on the other hand, it increased the pressure of accountability on the officers to instill a policing objective to patrol officers with which no prior relationships had been established. Tensions, naturally, could arise.
Intelligence gathering in the CPD was also notoriously slow. CompStat’s lifeblood is up to date criminal data, so the need for this data drives technological innovation within the agency. In 1995, the CPD contracted the Oracle Corporation to develop the Criminal History Records
Information System or CHRIS, which acted as a repository for all the department’s electronic and data storage needs. CHRIS was widely unpopular with officers. Oracle then developed the
Citizens Law Enforcement Analytics and Reporting system or CLEAR, using CHRIS as the foundation. The CLEAR system stores criminal information and data in pending investigations and tracks crime patterns through the geography information system or GIS. The CLEAR system also consists of a network of cameras that display minimal artificial intelligence and can sense criminal phenomena such as gunshots, loitering and any other suspicious activity and consequently alert the CPD (Critics of CLEAR charge that such policing practices are infringements on civil liberties and can lead to biased policing ala stop and frisk). Other innovations in criminal data analytics has paved the way for smart policing initiatives.
Along with the Illinois Institute of Technology and the Rand Corporation, in 2015, CPD began developing a data-driven predictive analytics program used to improve crime reduction tactics (by identifying individuals who have the propensity for committing violence or being a victim of violence based on the assessment of various risk factors, i.e. criminal record and history).
Another innovation in intelligence developed by CPD is the Crime Prevention Information Center, or CPIC. According to the CPD directives, CPIC is a data fusion center that acts as a “collaborative effort of two or more agencies that provide resources, expertise, and information to the center with the goal of maximizing their ability to detect, prevent, investigate, and respond to criminal and terrorists activity.” No direct statements link these intelligence gathering methods to CompStat explicitly, but in a political climate that perennially points the finger at the boys in blue, it’s safe to say that the reputations of departments live and die by these numbers.
No one number captures our collective woe more so than the murder rate.
Chicago mainstream media outlets’ coverage of the city’s murder rates often misses critical contexts, such as population fluctuations, as noted by investigative reporters Noah Isackson and David Bernstein in their 2014 multi-series report “The Truth About Crime Rates.” In June 2011, McCarthy threw down the gauntlet. He vowed, to the city of Chicago, that the murder rate would be reduced by 10 percent. CPD, according to news outlets, miraculously delivered, reporting a significant drop in murders (yet annual reports indicate that the raw numbers of murder dropped only by three from 436 in 2010 to 433 in 2011).
Homicide is one of the eight index crimes tracked by CPD, which is then reported to the FBI for their Uniform Crime Report (the others are criminal sexual assault, robbery, aggravated battery/assault in the category of violent crimes; in the category of property crimes there are burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft and arson). It’s significant to note, as reported by Isackson and Bernstein, that the CPD complies to the Illinois Statute’s guidelines for reporting, not federal guidelines (the reporters pointed this out in 2014. It’s 2016 and based CompStat report data for the 7th district, the practice remains). During the McCarthy era, the murder statistics in this city are at relative lows compared to past decades, according to the CPD, but still remain consistently high (2012 saw 507 murders, 2013 saw 415, 2014 saw 460, 2015 saw 506). McCarthy’s public statements regarding these departmental objectives created a whole new dimension of accountability, and ultimately, undue pressure on the police force to perform.
Accountability reads less as a statement for responsibility for officers holding rank and more so as code for liability: if CompStat succeeds praise acknowledges a singular face. When CompStat fails to reach objectives, the heat is felt at all levels. CompStat in its heyday marked a radical turning point; in the present day it breeds resentment.
Investigative reporting by Isackson and Bernstein have revealed that the department had knowingly manipulated statistical outcomes by downgrading crime classifications and increasing arrests on petty offenses. Homicides disappear, and instead are reclassified as non-criminal deaths. In “The Truth About Crime Rates,” an interview with a confidential police source illuminates who really loses in these numbers games: the victims of these crimes and their families. With McCarthy’s ouster, his replacement, John Escalante is now carrying the CompStat torch.
As reported by Mark Konkol in DNAinfo, Escalante recently announced an expansion to CompStat. In addition to city-wide meetings, the department will now conduct area specific CompStat operations for Areas North, Central and South. Now, police sergeants will be held accountable to performance objectives as delineated by CompStat data in hopes of instilling the vision to patrol officers on the street. CompStat will not only track criminal data, but will also document the use of manpower and complaints against officers. After McCarthy’s resignation, Chief Tracy also stepped down as the CPD’s CompStat chief strategist. Escalante appointed two veteran officers to run the program. Deputy Chief Steve Caluris will oversee intelligence operations and Deputy Chief Dave McNaughton will oversee the regular meetings and analytics.
The new legacy of CompStat is sure to inspire its share of skeptics and champions.
Nevertheless, the system’s checkered history provokes concern that the urgency to deliver the data ultimately betrays the reality of security it is supposed to reflect.
By Eleanore Catolico
Updated: March 20, 2016