Clinic Proposes Reforms with Justice Coalition of Greater Chicago to Enhance Police Accountability

1. Civilian complainants be treated equally with the accused officer: We propose and recommend that civilian complainants be treated equally with the officer complained of in that each shall be questioned in the same detail about the alleged conduct, the officer's word shall not automatically be accepted over that of the civilian and reasons shall be given for sustaining or not sustaining all cases. Currently, complainants are questioned in detail while officers are frequently allowed vague "To-From" reports with general denials of wrongdoing.

2. Consideration of substance and patterns of civilian complaints of officer misconduct by OPS and IAD investigators and supervisors: We further propose and recommend that the substance and patterns of all civilian complaints of police misconduct against an officer be considered by police disciplinary investigators, supervisors, and internal auditors, and that disciplinary complaints of misconduct be included in the periodic evaluations of officers, considered in promotion decisions and that nothing in the contract with the Fraternal Order of Police shall be interpreted to interfere with this.

3. Elimination of lengthy and duplicative steps in the disciplinary process: We further propose and recommend that the disciplinary process be streamlined from its current interminably lengthy and duplicative seven stage process to the following four stages:

  1. Investigation, findings and disciplinary recommendation of OPS and IAD investigators. (Supervising sergeants should be informed of CR investigations but should not do the investigating particularly in instances where the conduct complained of was carried out while they were supervising the officer.
  2. Review and concurrence or nonconcurrence by OPS or IAD supervisors and administrative heads of the agencies.
  3. Review of findings and recommendations by the Superintendent
  4. Review of cases by the Police Board where discipline of more than five days is recommended.

Command Channel Review and the Complaint Review Panel allow review of OPS investigators and their supervisors' decisions by regular Chicago Police Officers, who are allowed to make advisory opinions. These processes, one involving a review of the file and the other requiring an oral hearing unnecessarily delay the outcome of the disciplinary process and seldom provide new information. The old FOP contract which was supposed to expire on June 30, 1999 but is still in effect allows both the Complaint Review Panel and an additional grievance procedure after the rulings of the Superintendent or Police Board. The grievance procedure which begins with non-binding arbitration, has a huge backlog and substantially elongates the disciplinary process sometimes for years and all too frequently results in a reduction or reversal of the discipline previously mandated because of the backlog. Officers still have the right to challenge any disciplinary action in court. The CPD does not make available statistics on how many punishments are reversed or reduced through the grievance procedure thereby making evaluation of the frequency and severity of punishment in the current disciplinary process impossible.

4. Immediate supervisors have responsibility for discussing all disciplinary complaints with their subordinates and recommending additional monitoring, counseling, and/or training when appropriate: Currently supervisors are excluded or exclude themselves from the disciplinary process and admit total lack of knowledge regarding civilians' allegations of their subordinates' wrongdoing.

5. Creation and implementation of "use of force" and "search and seizure" reports: We propose and recommend that the CPD develop and require all officers to complete written (a) "use of force" reports to be filled out by any CPD officer using type of force greater than escort and compliant cuffing and (b) "search and seizure" reports to be filled out when any CPD officer (1) performs a warrantless search (excluding searches incident to arrests, frisks, and pat-downs (2) performs a body cavity or strip search, or (3) conducts any warrantless seizure of property (excluding towing vehicles) and that these reports as well as all disciplinary complaints be routinely monitored by the CPD to determine abuses and patterns of abuses.

6. Implementation of field contact cards or reports for traffic stops and investigative stops based on suspicion of criminal activity containing race and gender of persons stopped: Currently Field contact cards are completed at the discretion of the officer, are only maintained for a limited period and are not monitored. The cards should be retained for 24 months and, in addition to the age, race and gender of the person stopped should include (a) the officer's name, race, and badge number; (b) approximate time and location; (c) whether the stop involved a frisk or pat-down search; (d)any weapons, evidence or contraband found during the search; whether the individual involved was arrested or cited, and if so, the charges.

7. Creation of an effective and automated early warning system: In order to produce an effective disciplinary system the Justice Coalition of Greater Chicago proposes and recommends that the CPD create an effective and automated Early Warning System. This must include a database that takes into account numbers and patterns of disciplinary complaints against each officer by citizens and police personnel, allegations of racial bias and domestic violence, civil actions against the CPD, use of force as documented in the "use of force" reports, illegal entries and searches as documented in the "search and seizure" reports as well as other reliable indicia of "at risk" officers and which recommends increased monitoring, supervision, and/or counseling of the officer when the threshold for triggering action by the Early Warning System is reached.

8. Police officers who provide information about other officers' wrongdoing be protected from reprisals: We further propose and recommend that police officers who provide information about other officers wrongdoing be given protection from reprisals and where necessary rewards for providing testimony concerning other officers wrongdoing by allowing transfers to other units and in some cases promotions. This is prohibited by the current F.O. P. contract and by City Ordinance which state "An officer under investigation shall not be threatened with transfer, dismissal, or disciplinary action (or promised a reward as an inducement to provide information relating to the incident under investigation or) for exercising any rights contained herein."

The anti-whistle blowing provision in the underlined portion above impedes investigation of police misconduct because officers who come forward with information against fellow officers in their unit cannot be protected from retaliation even with transfers. The underlined portion should be deleted. Investigators should be permitted to reward officers who risk personal harassment by disclosing other police officer's misconduct and the promise of rewards is a necessary and effective tool in discovering and eliminating misconduct within any close association of people.

9. OPS and IAD accept anonymous complaints: We further propose and recommend that anonymous complaints of police abuse of citizens be accepted and the current ordinance prohibiting anonymous complaints except where criminal conduct is alleged be amended and the current similar provision in the F.O.P. be omitted from the future contract.

Ordinance 2-84-330 concerning the Department of Police entitled "conduct of disciplinary investigations"D. "No anonymous complaint made against an officer shall be made the subject of a complaint register investigation unless the allegation is of a criminal nature."

Former FOP contract 6.1D "No anonymous complaint made against any officer shall be made the subject of a Complaint Register investigation unless the allegation is a violation of the Illinois Criminal Code"

These portions should be deleted because anonymous complaints are frequently what expose police corruption and wrongdoing and the determination of what is a complaint "of a criminal nature" is unclear and subject to abuse.

10. Records of disciplinary complaints against officers and their dispositions should be maintained during and for three years following an officer's employment: We further propose and recommend that records of disciplinary complaints by citizens and dispositions of these complaints be maintained during the employment history of the officer and for three years following in the event he/she may seek to resume employment. City Ordinance 2-84-430 entitled "Complaints against police-Investigations" reads as follows:

    All complaints of citizens regarding officers and members of the department of police shall be investigated promptly and thoroughly. The substance of all oral complaints and copies of written complaints and copies of written complaints received at the police stations, and by the various bureaus, divisions and sections of the service, shall be forwarded promptly to the superintendent of police.

The following amendment should be added to the above language.

"All complaints shall be maintained for the period of the complained of officer's employment. All Findings of "sustained" shall remain in the officer's disciplinary file."

The first sentence is necessary to prevent the destruction of complaints from which patterns of police misconduct can be determined. The second is necessary for the same reason because currently under Section 8.4 of the FOP contract a Complaint Register with a finding of "Sustained-Violation noted, No disciplinary Action" is removed from the disciplinary file after one year. This allows an unlimited amount of unpunished misconduct and prevents the discovery of patterns of misconduct.

11. Disciplinary complaints alleging misconduct toward civilians should be permitted to be filed without a statute of limitations: The current F.O. P. contract reads 6.1D "No complaint or allegation of any misconduct concerning any incident or event that occurred five years prior to the date the complaint or allegation became known to the Department shall be made the subject of a Complaint Register investigation..." It prohibits investigations into prior police misconduct no matter how egregious and if this provision had been in effect it may have barred the investigations into torture at Area 2 which led to the firing of commander Burge.

12. The Chicago police department should produce printed annual reports and make monthly statistics available sufficient to allow public monitoring and reasonable analysis of the disciplinary system and should monitor the field contact cards to determine if and where racial profiling is taking place: We further propose and recommend that for purposes of public accountability the CPD produce printed annual reports sufficient to allow reasonable analysis and evaluation of the disciplinary process. These reports must include by unit, district and City-wide the (a) the number and type of Complaint Registers, (b)who investigated the complaints (OPS, IAD, or the officer's supervisor), The disposition by category of the complaints (i.e. sustained, not-sustained, unfounded, and exonerated) the punishment recommended at each phase of the process, and the actual punishment meted out at the end of the arbitration process. Current reports are particularly lacking in describing what punishments if any are actually meted out in what types of cases and in describing how frequently the OPS investigator's findings and recommendations for punishment are reversed or reduced in the disciplinary process.

These proposals if implemented with the right spirit and a well-trained, committed, and adequately staffed Office of Professional Standards and Internal Affairs Division would substantially increase the effectiveness of the current disciplinary and would meet minimum requirements for an effective disciplinary system and have been acknowledged as absolutely necessary for the adequate functioning of Chicago and other large urban police departments.(See the Webb commission reports for 1997 and 1999.)