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The Most Dangerous Neighborhood, the Most Inexperienced Cops

The Most Dangerous Neighborhood, the Most Inexperienced Cops


The officers who patrol the Chicago’s 11th Police District face a daunting challenge. The district, which is centered around Garfield Park on the city’s West Side, has the highest murder rate in the city, and it’s rising fast. By late August the district already had more murders than in all of 2015, when it led the city with 48 homicides.

The officers of the 11th District stand out in another way. They are the youngest and least experienced police officers of any district in Chicago.

The average officer in the 11th joined the force 10 years ago; over a third of the district’s officers have less than five years on the force. Meanwhile, most veteran officers with patrol experience in the late 1990s — the last time Chicago’s murder rate was as high as today — work far from Garfield Park. Half a dozen miles to the north one of the city’s safest districts, Jefferson Park, has only three officers with under 10 years of experience. Over half the patrol officers are 20-year veterans.

The divide between the police officers who patrol Garfield Park and Jefferson Park reflect divisions that hold true across Chicago and in police departments across the country, where high-crime areas are frequently staffed with rookies while the veterans flock to safer districts. Policing experts say that the practice is commonplace, since senior officers usually get priority when they ask to transfer, though Chicago’s union-mandated transfer process exacerbates the situation, tying the hands of commanders in deciding how to staff their districts. And while some say that the divide has its benefits, citing younger officers’ energy and ability to connect with at-risk youth, there are also significant risks—to the safety of citizens and officers, and to police departments that already struggle to forge lasting connections in many communities.

“You’re putting your least experienced officers in the situations that really call for the most experience and best judgement,” says Sam Walker, a professor and policing expert at the University of Nebraska. According to Walker, younger officers are more likely to engage in overly aggressive policing, particularly if not given proper training.

A lack of experience can also have deadly consequences. Last year, a Buzzfeed News analysis found that younger officers are more likely to use force — a finding also backed by a 2008 study of 186 officer-involved shootings. In Chicago, a database of police shootings compiled by the  showed that the average officer who opened fire had about nine years of experience, compared to 15 for the department as a whole.

Three young Chicago officers recently came under scrutiny for their use of force in the fatal shooting of 18-year-old Paul O’Neal. Body camera and patrol car footage released by the city showed two officers firing at O’Neal as he plowed past the officers while driving a stolen car. Moments later, after a short foot chase, a third officer fatally shot O’Neal - who was unarmed - in the back.

WARNING: Graphic content/language. The Independent Police Review Authority released video Aug. 5, 2016, from the fatal police shooting of 18-year-old Paul O'Neal. This clip shows footage from a Chicago police officer's body camera. (Chicago Tribune/Youtube)

Body camera footage showed the moments before and after the fatal shooting of Paul O'Neal by the police in Chicago on July 28, 2016. INDEPENDENT POLICE REVIEW AUTHORITY

Joseph Giacalone, a retired New York police sergeant who teaches at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and has watched the videos, criticized the decision to fire on the car, pointing out that the suspect had not displayed a weapon. Superintendent Eddie Johnson quickly suspended the police powers of the officers who opened fire. All three had less than four years of experience at the time of the shooting.

The district where O’Neal was shot — the 3rd district — has the highest percentage of officers with under five years of experience in the city. Nearly 40 percent of the officers are recent hires. The three suspended officers were assigned to the nearby 4th district, where over 30 percent of officers have under five years of experience.

As Chicago grapples with its most violent year in over a decade, the burden of bringing down the city’s rising murder rate falls disproportionately on its newest officers. Among Chicago’s 22 police districts, the five with the highest murder rates in 2016 are also the five where officers have the least experience, averaging ten years on the force. By comparison, the five safest districts are staffed by some of the most experienced officers, with an average of 18 years of experience.

Experience of Patrol Officers by District and 2016 Homicide Rate  SOURCE: CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT

Experience of Patrol Officers by District and 2016 Homicide Rate


Data obtained from the CPD through a Freedom of Information Act request show 7,300 officers in the Bureau of Patrol (not counting sergeants and other supervisors), accounting for over 60 percent of the entire CPD. Patrol officers are the backbone of CPD, responding to citizen calls as well as walking and driving through their assigned beats.

In the five districts with the highest murder rates this year over 50 percent of the officers have less than 10 years of experience, though those officers make up just 30 percent of all Patrol and only 12 percent of the officers in the five safest districts. Out of the nearly 400 patrol officers under the age of 30, more than half serve in the five districts with the highest murder rates, while just 22 serve in the five safest.

Meanwhile, veteran officers are clustered in safer districts. Officers with over 20 years of experience make up just 10 percent of patrol officers in the five districts with the highest murder rates, but 30 percent of the city’s safest districts.

Younger officers policing high-crime districts have been asked to play a central role in reducing Chicago’s rapidly rising murder rate. Under former superintendent Garry McCarthy, the CPD flooded high-crime areas with officers on overtime shifts in an effort to tamp down crime. Superintendent Eddie Johnson reconfigured the program in July, emphasizing the role of officers who serve full-time in high-crime districts and have greater opportunity to develop strong community ties.

The movement of veteran officers out of districts on Chicago’s South and West Sides exposes a challenge for Johnson’s efforts to encourage better community ties. Jeffrey Booker, a retired CPD officer who served for more than 21 years on the force, says “the police see themselves as separate from the community” in many South and West Side neighborhoods.

But the concentration of younger officers in higher-crime districts can have some advantages. Giacalone, the retired New York police sergeant, argues that “policing is a young person’s job” and that younger officers are often better able to connect with troubled young people than officers in their 40s and 50s.

Though the rookie/veteran divide is present in many police departments, Chicago does have policies that may leave its force even more skewed. The Chicago Police Department’s union contract allows officers to regularly bid for open positions in other districts. Bids for patrol officer positions are decided primarily by comparing the seniority of the officers, and officers can transfer using a bid once every 12 months.

That makes it relatively easy for officers to move and ties the hands of the department in terms of determining which officers serve in which districts. Giacalone notes that when he served in the NYPD, “it can take years for people to get transfers.” He remembers that NYPD officers sometimes jokingly called the official transfer form a “black hole.”

Walker notes that “the one virtue of the seniority system is fairness” since it reduces the power of favoritism, a longstanding concern in Chicago. He also points out that in some cities the introduction of a seniority system helped end practices where the worst officers were purposely assigned to minority neighborhoods.

Walker and Giacalone both argue that the risks of large numbers of younger officers can be offset by a strong contingent of sergeants and field training officers. These figures play a major role in shaping rookies after they’re assigned to a district.

The CPD’s training programs have been subject to serious criticism. The Police Accountability Task Force, which convened in the wake of the Laquan McDonald video release that led to months of protests on the streets of Chicago, declared in its report that the “CPD has consistently failed to devote adequate resources to training officers once they leave the Academy.” The report highlighted the need for increased in-service training and a robust field training officer (FTO) system - programs that policing experts like Walker have pointed to as vital for preparing young officers entering stressful environments.

Nationally, training reforms have been cited as a major component of broader police reform. The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, convened by President Obama in 2014 following several high profile incidents where police officers shot and killed black men, emphasized training and education as one of six crucial areas for improvement in policing. The Task Force’s final report highlighted the importance of programs like fielding training officers, encouraging improvements to the existing model based on San Jose’s well-regarded FTO program. San Jose’s police department is less than one-tenth the size of Chicago’s, but it boasts nearly the same number of designated field training officers.

The police seniority system is deeply embedded in Chicago, but Walker notes that the seniority rules — alongside in-service training and supervision — “are the little details that really make a difference in policing.” Still, Booker, the retired Chicago patrolman, is more pessimistic about change: “there’s no formula that’s going to answer this — it has to do with the culture — the formal and informal culture of the police department.”

This article was published in partnership with The Marshall Project, a nonprofit news organization covering the U.S. criminal justice system. Sign up for their newsletter, or follow The Marshall Project on Facebook or Twitter.

Notorious Cop Glenn Evans Back To Work, And Now His Old Boss Is In Charge

Notorious Cop Glenn Evans Back To Work, And Now His Old Boss Is In Charge


Glenn Evans is back. The former Chicago Police commander accused of shoving his gun down a suspect’s throat has wrapped up his suspension and returned to a department now led by his old boss Eddie Johnson.

Earlier this month, Police Supt. Johnson told a small gathering of the Park Manor Neighbors Community Council that Evans, who was acquitted of the aggravated battery and official misconduct charges tied to the 2013 incident in December, is back on the force after a 1½-year suspension.

Evans, demoted to lieutenant, is on administrative duty at police headquarters in Bronzeville.

Johnson recently declared he’s never witnessed police misconduct, but he directly supervised Evans during a time when a series of serious misconduct charges were lodged against Evans.

With the exception of a single one-year stretch, Evans reported directly to Johnson between March 2008 and March 2014. While working under the future superintendent, Evans racked up at least 11 formal complaints, including an incident in which then-lieutenant Evansallegedly fractured bones in a woman’s face at the headquarters of the district where Johnson was commander.

Even though investigators eventually recommended discipline for Evans in that case, he later was promoted to district commander, again serving directly under Johnson, who at that point was a deputy chief.

Shared history

Johnson’s confirmation of Evans’ return to the force, which came in response to an audience question during an unannounced visit to a South Side community meeting at St. Columbanus Church, comes five months after Evans was acquitted of the battery and misconduct charges.

In January 2013, then-commander Evans was alleged to have chased a gun-possession suspect into an abandoned building, where he was accused of tackling the man, sticking his gun into the man’s mouth and pressing his Taser against the man’s groin. 

While serving under Johnson as both a lieutenant and later a district commander, Evans won widespread praise from community leaders for his aggressive style of policing. Still, the numerous excessive force allegations surrounding Evans call into question whether his longtime supervisor, now head of the Police Department, can truly address police misconduct in the city.

In a March 29 interview with CBS2, Johnson declared that “I’ve actually never encountered police misconduct, ’cause you got to understand, officers that commit misconduct don’t do it in front of people that they think are going to hold them accountable for it.”

Several cases involving Evans, who did not respond to interview requests, and other officers serving under Johnson raise doubts about that claim.

Johnson and Evans: A Timeline (story continues below)

Johnson commanded the Gresham District, which includes the South Side neighborhoods of Chatham, Auburn Gresham and Park Manor, between March 2008 and August 2011. Evans served as one of his lieutenants during that period.

In April 2011, Evans allegedly pushed his hand into the face of a recently arrested woman, Rita King, for minutes on end. King claimed in a federal lawsuit that Evans repeatedly told her, “I’m going to push your nose through your brain,” and hospital records from a visit several days later show that King suffered multiple bone fractures in her face, according to a report by WBEZ.

The Independent Police Review Authority, the police watchdog often criticized for supporting officers against their accusers, found some of her claims credible and recommended Evans receive a 15-day suspension. The incident involving Evans took place inside the Gresham District headquarters, where both Evans and Johnson worked at the time.

IPRA sustained a second complaint against Evans later in 2011, stemming from when the lieutenant, off-duty and in civilian clothes, allegedly threatened Chas Byars at a South Side diner after Byars criticized his treatment of another patron. While arresting Byars, Evans caused the man’s infant son to fall from his carrier and hit his head on a table. IPRA recommended a seven-day suspension for Evans in the case. This incident took place after Johnson had been moved to an interim position in which he was not Evans’ direct superior.

Despite the charges, Evans soon would be promoted to work directly under Johnson again. After then Supt. Garry McCarthy elevated Johnson to deputy chief for Area Central in March 2012, Evans was chosen to serve as one of his district commanders — bypassing the rank of captain entirely — to take over the Grand Crossing District, just northeast of his old post in the Gresham District.

More accusations against Evans

Evans continued to rack up citizen complaints, even while in charge of an entire police district. While serving under Johnson as the commander of the Grand Crossing District, Evans received eight complaints in a little more than 1½ years, according to data from the Invisible Institute.

During that period, only 14 of the Chicago Police Department’s roughly 12,000 officers received more complaints than Evans. His complaint numbers were high for a senior officer: The 22 current district commanders received only six total complaints in the same stretch. In total, police records obtained by WBEZ show that Evans has been the subject of more than 120 misconduct allegations over the course of his nearly 30-year career. About half of these cases relate to excessive force.

Additionally, four federal lawsuits have named Evans as a defendant for acts of alleged misconduct committed while directly under Johnson’s command. Since 2002, the city has paid out more than $300,000 in settlements stemming from misconduct complaints against Evans, without admitting to any wrongdoing.

Evans is not the only Johnson subordinate facing misconduct allegations. An Injustice Watch investigation last month identified 15 other federal lawsuits naming officers who served under Johnson’s command.

Community members appreciated the working relationship between the two officers, however, with some tying Evans’ tactics under Johnson’s supervision to a general decline in crime.

After Johnson was assigned to the Gresham District and promoted Evans to be his tactical lieutenant, “Crime ceased to rise and started to decline. Our community was elated at the effectiveness of both Commander Johnson and Lieutenant Evans,” Keith Tate, president of the Chatham/Avalon Park Community Council, said at a September 2014 Police Board hearing.

Tate also tied Evans’ later “relentless efforts” in the Grand Crossing District to a drop in the crime rate.

At the meeting in Park Manor this month, Johnson declined to elaborate on exactly where in the department Evans’ new job is, though police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi clarified that Evans, who returned to work on May 1, is still stripped of his police powers. He had been on an unpaid suspension since his indictment in August 2014.

Though Evans was acquitted of criminal charges in December, he remains the subject of an IPRA investigation, according to Guglielmi. Johnson’s announcement of Evans’ return originally was noted by Worlee Glover, a community member who attended the meeting, on the Facebook group Concerned Citizens of Chatham.

Community remains supportive

Despite the many accusations against Evans, he remains well-regarded by community members in his old districts. Park Manor Neighbors Community Council President Darlene Tribue said in a phone interview that as commander, Evans made the Park Manor community, which sits between the Grand Crossing and Gresham districts, feel safer.

“They would see him standing on the street, and the gangs would run the other way,” she said.

When Supt. McCarthy transferred him from the Grand Crossing District to the Harrison District on the West Side in March 2014, Tribue led community members to protest outside police headquarters. McCarthy acknowledged the community’s frustration, saying at a Police Board hearing that month that he had moved Evans because he was his “favorite among [his] favorites,” and needed him in the increasingly violent West Side district.


“I don’t condone any violation of the law but I respect Commander Evans because he is brutally honest with residents about what is going on,” Glover wrote in an email. “There were those in attendance [at the Park Manor meeting] who made it clear they would take Commander Evans back.”

Tribue said in a phone interview Tuesday that things in Park Manor since Evans left are “back to the way [they] were before him.”

On the surface, the city crime statistics reflect her statement. While Evans was Grand Crossing District commander, serious crimes steadily declined, hitting a plateau in 2015, the first year after he left.

These statistics mirror citywide crime drops, however, and the Police Department’s record-keeping under McCarthy has been called into question in probes by CBS ChicagoChicago magazine and Truthout.

“All of us would welcome him back,” Tribue said, while noting that many of the incidents of accused misconduct occurred within the neighboring Grand Crossing District.

According to the Citizens Police Data Project, those incidents include at least seven allegations, with an additional five originating in the neighboring Gresham District.

The decision about whether Evans returns now rests partly in the hands of his old boss.

This report was published in collaboration with DNAinfo Chicago. Additional reporting by Darryl Holliday.

Data Plays Central Role in Police Reform Efforts in Chicago and Beyond

Data Plays Central Role in Police Reform Efforts in Chicago and Beyond


Over the last 20 years, a data revolution has swept policing, with sophisticated computer programs that track and predict wrongdoing helping police across the country drive crime rates to record lows.

Now that same revolution may finally be coming to police accountability.

On April 13th, a special mayoral task force, appointed in the wake of the Laquan McDonald protests, announced the findings of its investigation into the Chicago Police Department, bluntly declaring that “the community’s lack of trust in the police is justified.”

The task force’s claims rest on a mountain of data, cataloging major racial disparities in everything from police shootings to traffic stops to promotions within the CPD. Their report states that “the CPD’s own data gives validity to the widely held belief the police have no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color.”

Police Accountability Task Force chair Lori Lightfoot speaks about the findings of the panel’s report at the Harold Washington Library on April 13, 2016. (Stacey Rupulo/Chicago Reporter)

Police Accountability Task Force chair Lori Lightfoot speaks about the findings of the panel’s report at the Harold Washington Library on April 13, 2016. (Stacey Rupulo/Chicago Reporter)

Data is driving police reform in Chicago and beyond. Nationally, a wave of organizations is beginning to document and quantify police misconduct, sometimes using the same approaches police departments use to track crime. In Chicago, police data compiled by journalists, activists, and academics provided central evidence for the task force’s report. The report’s proposed reforms also lean heavily on data analysis to identify and reduce misconduct, meaning the work done by watchdogs and media organizations could eventually be standard practice within the CPD.

Despite the task force’s sweeping claims, their report provides extensive detail for only one case of alleged police misconduct – the shooting of Laquan McDonald. Instead many of the task force’s key assertions rely on a type of analysis known as “disparate impact,” which examines whether policies and practices disproportionately hurt minority groups in order to prove the existence of discrimination.

Often used in housing discrimination cases, disparate impact has been increasingly applied to police departments, playing a major part in the Justice Department’s recent investigation of the Ferguson Police Department. In New York City, a disparate impact analysis built on sophisticated statistical work helped convince a judge to sharply limit the NYPD’s controversial “stop and frisk” program. Judge Shira Scheindlin wrote that “NYPD officers are more likely to stop blacks and Hispanics than whites… even after controlling for other relevant variables” like local crime rates.

While Chicago’s task force employed a less detailed approach, it also found “significant disparate impacts associated with the use of force, foot and traffic stops and bias in the police oversight system itself. African-Americans make up about a third of Chicago’s population, but 74% of those shot by the police and 72% of those stopped by the police. African-Americans are also far more likely to file complaints, but far less likely to see any form of disciple for the accused officer.

The task force’s conclusions rely on work by a host of organizations in Chicago. The ACLU of Illinois originally released the data on CPD investigatory stops in March of 2015. Seven months later, the Invisible Institute launched an initiative called the “Citizen’s Police Data Project” which provided the data on over 50,000 police complaints.

Nationally, organizations are working on similar initiatives. The Guardian and the Washington Post have both launched projects to track the number of Americans killed by the police. Their work revealed hundreds of police killings not reflected in data kept by the FBI, which relies on self-reporting from local police.  Earlier this month the Post won a Pulitzer Prize for “its revelatory initiative” in creating its database and reporting on the findings.

Meanwhile, the New York Legal Aid Society – the nation’s largest public defender organization – has created the Cop Accountability Project, a database of misconduct claims lodged against NYPD officers. Unlike data projects aimed at the media and the general public, the Legal Aid Society’s work aims to help defense lawyers push back against the police in individual court cases.

Joanna Schwartz, a UCLA law professor who studies police reform and misconduct litigation, says that the last few years have seen “real movement on the data side,” with public concern about police misconduct and easier access to information helping to drive a diverse set of data-based police accountability projects.

Data also plays a central role in the Chicago task force’s recommendations for reform. In stark contrast to the CPD’s embrace of software used to analyze crime trends, the task force notesthat IPRA – the police oversight body – “has had the power to examine patterns of complaints when investigating police misconduct, but has not exercised it.”

The task force aims to change that, recommending that new oversight bodies regularly look for patterns of misconduct and use that information to investigate potential abuse.

The report also calls for the implementation of an Early Intervention System (EIS), which uses officer data to predict problematic behavior and allow supervisors to step in. Schwartz sees similarities between an EIS and the crime-tracking software embraced by police departments, noting that “early intervention systems are, in their design, very similar to Compstat,” the crime analysis program used by the CPD.

The CPD originally attempted to launch a data-based EIS during the 1990s, but discontinued the program after a few years. The task force cites lackluster support from CPD leadership and“opposition from the FOP” for the program’s cancellation.

Given the strength of Chicago’s police union, it remains to be seen how many of the task force’s recommendations will be enacted, but the increasing use of data by media and nonprofit organizations is already guiding serious conversations about the department’s future. As organizations in Chicago and around the country continue to refine databases and programsto monitor the police, it looks like data is becoming a central part of police reform.

This report was published in collaboration with The Chicago Reporter.

New Police Reforms in Newark May Hint at Chicago’s Future

New Police Reforms in Newark May Hint at Chicago’s Future


First Garry McCarthy ran the police department. Then the ACLU filed a lawsuit. Then the Department of Justice came knocking.

Sound like Chicago? It is, but it is also what happened in Newark—about four and a half years before us.

The results of that Department of Justice probe are now codified in a reform agreement announced this week, which includes sweeping accountability reforms and federal monitoring that could cost Newark up to $7.4 million over the course of the agreement.

Former Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy. (Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune)

Former Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy. (Nancy Stone/Chicago Tribune)

In May 2011, McCarthy stepped down from his post as police director in Newark to become Chicago’s police superintendent; within a week, the Department of Justice had announced a civil rights investigation of the Newark Police Department. Four years later, McCarthy was forced out in Chicago, and again his departure was closely followed by a federal probe, which is ongoing.

In both Newark and Chicago, McCarthy employed data-based policing techniques that provoked complaints about racial profiling, even as they reportedly reduced crime.

McCarthy and his supporters have argued that aggressive policing and “broken windows” strategies work. In Newark, a city with a murder rate about twice Chicago’s, McCarthy used CompStat—crime-tracking software favored by his friend and former boss, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton—and flooded high-crime areas with police. He presided over a 46 percent drop in shootings over four years.

Using similar tactics in Chicago, McCarthy pressured officers to increase street stops, which increased more than 50 percent in his first two years. Police said Chicago saw a 38 percent overall crime dropbetween 2011 and 2015. (But, as Chicag first reported in April 2014, some of these drops may have been exaggerated.)

The Justice Department’s probe found widespread unconstitutional practices in Newark, much of it during McCarthy’s command. Seventy-five percent of Newark police stops lacked legal justification, and these stops disproportionately affected African Americans. The Justice Department also claimed that the department’s policies “effectively promote[d] a view that living or simply being in a high-area is criminally suspicious.” Meanwhile, the ACLU of Illinois uncovered evidence of similar issues in Chicago, finding that police conducted 250,000 stops without arrests during the summer of 2014, four times the rate of stops at the height of New York’s controversial “stop and frisk” program.

In Newark, the Justice Department also found a “pattern or practice of unconstitutional force” and faulted an internal review process that sustained only one civilian use-of-force complaint during a six-year period that included McCarthy’s entire tenure. In Chicago, less than two percent of complaints filed between March 2011 and September 2015 resulted in disciplinary action, according to police data obtained by the Invisible Institute.

As part of the reform agreement, Newark’s police department must now make over 50 changes to its use-of-force policies, including limits on firing at vehicles, mandatory reports every time an officer points a gun, and stricter limits on both lethal and nonlethal force. A former attorney general was tapped to be the department’s federal monitor for five years—more if the reforms are not sufficiently implemented.

A legal expert told the Tribune that reforms and monitoring in Chicago could come close to $100 million, but the Newark agreement caps the expenses for the first five years at $7.4 million. Newark Mayor Ras Baraka said he was “not ecstatic” about spending that much money, according to the Associated Press, but Baraka said the changes could save the city money through fewer police complaint lawsuits, which cost Newark $5 million from 2007 to 2009. (Chicago paid $5 million in its Laquan McDonald settlement alone and since 2004 has paid more than $660 million in police misconduct settlements.)

New interim police superintendent Eddie Johnson must now confront a surge in homicides while addressing rising public anger over police misconduct. The previous interim superintendent, John Escalante, said last month that he would expand the use of CompStat, but Johnson hasn’t yet commented on specific strategies, only that, “We’ll talk about what’s gone well and what’s gone wrong and how we can make things right.”

This report was produced in collaboration with Chicago magazine.

Many Superintendents Have Tried To Reform the Chicago Police (TIMELINE)

Many Superintendents Have Tried To Reform the Chicago Police (TIMELINE)


Rahm Emanuel isn’t the first Chicago mayor forced to pick a new police superintendent amid scandal. 

Nine of the last 14 top cops have either quit or been forced out by a Chicago mayor.

After each forced exit, the mayor at the time promised Chicagoans a reformer as the replacement. It rarely worked out that way.

The few superintendents who successfully instituted major reforms stand out because they made decisions unpopular with the rank and file and worked for mayors willing to back them despite potential political consequences.

Earlier this month, Emanuel, in an emotional speech to the City Council, promised “nothing less than complete and total reform of the system and the culture that it breeds.”

If the past is any indicator, the mayor has a tough job ahead of him.


Here are a few milestones on the long, bumpy, and so far unsuccessful, road to Chicago police reform:

* In 1960, Mayor Richard J. Daley faced a massive police fiasco known as the Summerdale Scandal. A group of Chicago Police officers ran a large-scale burglary ring, looting houses and driving the valuables home in their patrol cars.

To protect his administration from rising public anger, Daley lured the nation’s foremost criminologist, O.W. Wilson, to Chicago. Wilson, who had the top cop job for seven years, was wary of the city’s entrenched corruption and political interference. But Daley gave him complete control over the department and unwavering support. Columnist Mike Royko put it this way in his Daley biography, “Boss”: “Losing the Police Department as a political appendage might be painful, but it had to be done to save the Machine.”

* Chicago’s first black mayor, Harold Washington, appointed the city’s first black superintendent and ordered an end to racial segregaton within the Police Department.

Fred Rice, who served from 1983 to 1987, had some success reforming the mostly white Police Department. Rice, an experienced commander, had a veteran’s feel for the department and a mayoral mandate to shake up the department.

With Washington’s backing, Rice stood up to rank-and-file dissent when officers slowed ticket-writing in response to the racial integration of police patrols. During Rice’s tenure, tensions between the police force and minority communities seemed to ease. For instance, the department’s use of firearms fell considerably, as did disorderly conduct arrests, which were a source of tension in minority neighborhoods.

The tenures of Chicago Police superintendents since 1960. [City Bureau/Andrew Fan]

The tenures of Chicago Police superintendents since 1960. [City Bureau/Andrew Fan]

  • In 1997, former mayor Richard M. Daley accepted the resignation of loyal top cop Matt Rodriguez, who ran the department from 1992 to 1997, amid public outrage over the superintendent’s alleged ties to a convicted felon, as well as allegations of police corruption and brutality under his watch.

Daley convened a blue ribbon committee after forcing Rodriguez to quit. That led to the creation of an early warning system to catch and retrain problem officers before they committed major offenses. (A recent analysis found the system doesn’t do a great job identifying troubled officers. The report found the department’s early warning system identified only 6 percent of officers with more than 10 civilian complaints. For example, Jason Van Dyke, the officer charged with murdering Laquan McDonald, had 18 misconduct complaints during his career.)

  • In 2007, Daley replaced police Supt. Philip Cline after four years as superintendent with former FBI agent Jody Weis when the release of videos showing Police Department officers beating civilians sparked an uproar.

Weis, who served from 2008 to 2011, was the first outsider to head the force in 50 years. It didn’t take long before he upset the police union when he refused to back officer Bill Cozzi, who got caught on videotape beating a hospital patient handcuffed to a wheelchair.

That led to a federal investigation that resulted in a civil rights charge. The Fraternal Order of Police issued a vote of no confidence against Weis, declaring the department to be in “complete meltdown.” In 2011, Weis stepped down after Emanuel, then the mayor-elect, made it clear he would not retain him, becoming the shortest-serving superintendent in over three decades.

  • In 2011, Emanuel appointed Garry McCarthy as his superintendent. He served until earlier this month when the mayor fired him. Emanuel said McCarthy became a “distraction” in the wake of the Laquan McDonald shooting.

Emanuel’s next superintendent will face close scrutiny by a wide range of stakeholders.

While simply replacing the superintendent hasn’t always led to meaningful reform, history says there might be hope if Emanuel is willing to empower the new superintendent to make sweeping changes and offer his unwavering support.

This report was published in collaboration with DNAinfo Chicago.