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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Chicago’s Policing Problem

posted by on July 18 at 11:45 AM

An article in today’s Chicago Tribune shows that Seattle’s not the only city with a policing problem. In fact, Chicago seems to be going through an eerily similar fight over police accountability.

The full article is behind a free-membership firewall, but I’ve reposted some of it here:

The list of Chicago police misconduct allegations that city officials are fighting to keep secret shows that the scandal-plagued Special Operations Section has a disproportionately high number of complaints over the last five years, according to a copy of the list obtained by the Tribune.

The top four police officers on the list, who all had 50 or more misconduct complaints in five years, were members of the section, which is currently the focus of a criminal probe by the Cook County state’s attorney that has resulted in six officers indicted for robbing and kidnapping people.

Thirty Chicago police officers assigned to the Special Operations Section had 862 misconduct complaints filed against them in five years.

Number of complaints against the 10 most-cited SOS officers over five years.

The number of those complaints upheld by the Office of Professional Standards. One led to a 15-day suspension; two ended with reprimands.

The top 10 Special Operations Section officers with the most complaints on the list combined for a total of 408 complaints over five years. Of those complaints, only three were sustained by the Office of Professional Standards, and only one resulted in a suspension - for 15 days. The other two cases ended with reprimands. And the top 30 officers from the section were accused of brutality and other offenses 862 times.

One officer was accused of misconduct 55 times, with none of the complaints sustained, according to the list.

The fate of the list plays into a larger debate about police oversight facing the City Council and Mayor Richard Daley this week. The council is expected to vote Thursday on Daley’s proposal to reform the Office of Professional Services in the wake of a string of police misconduct scandals, including the investigation of the Special Operations Section, an elite unit whose officers are sent to troubled spots all over the city.

Critics have also pointed out the irony that Daley is promising to make OPS investigations more transparent at the same time his lawyers are fighting to keep such information secret in federal court.

The current fight over the list is not the first time the records have shed negative light on the police department. Last year, Futterman produced statistics from the records that showed a relatively small group of 662 officers — or about 5 percent of the department — account for the lion’s share of complaints. But the extraordinarily low rate at which OPS sustained complaints — less than 1 percent — allowed bad cops to act with virtual impunity, critics said.


I can’t wait to see how Mayor Daley handles his police problem. It appears he’s pulling the same disingenuous crap that Nickels did, pushing for police accountability in public, while doing what he can behind the scenes to suppress the issue and make sure he doesn’t end up with a massive scandal on his hands.

Will Chicago get rid of that troublesome one percent, or will they continue to let a handful of cops rack up complaints?

RSS icon Comments


A most hilarious post.

Unintentionally so, I'm sure.

Posted by RonK, Seattle | July 18, 2007 12:22 PM

How's that Ron? I didn't see you lurking around my post about SPD's attempt Patterson setup either. I was getting worried.

Posted by Jonah S | July 18, 2007 12:39 PM

Here's what's funny:

30 cops in Chicago rack up as many complaints per year as all 1200 SPD officers SPD combined.

But Seattle's accountability system sustains about 30 complaints per year, compared to roughly 1 per year against Daley's "dirty thirty".

Conclusion, according to Stranger logic? Seattle and Chicago are both dirty and broken, and they've all gotta go.

Sorry, but that's just too FUNNY.

Posted by RonK, Seattle | July 18, 2007 1:09 PM
The top four police officers on the list, who all had 50 or more misconduct complaints in five years, were members of the section, which is currently the focus of a criminal probe by the Cook County state’s attorney that has resulted in six officers indicted for robbing and kidnapping people.

Oh yes. Their scandal is eerily similar to ours.

Posted by keshmeshi | July 18, 2007 1:13 PM

keshmeshi - It's obvious the Seattle kidnappings have been covered up, because, well, you know how it is ... they're all in on it.

Posted by RonK, Seattle | July 18, 2007 1:20 PM

jonah -- Got a link to your Patterson buy-bust post? Last I saw, it wasn't drawing flies.

Business as usual. The cop's back on his beat, Patterson's back on his beat, they're bound to intersect. (Pike-Pine is a small world after all.)

Posted by RonK, Seattle | July 18, 2007 1:56 PM

As we all know, something isn't a problem if you can identify a bigger problem.

Posted by thehim | July 18, 2007 2:14 PM

after that video surfaced of the cpd officer beating the crap out of the little 115 pound, female bartender, the cpd has been facing quite a shit-storm. Video has surfaced of a chicago cop shooting a man in the head at point blank range because the man moved his hand (non=threateningly). this was years ago, the cop only just got taken off duty... in the interim he had been promoted, despite the fact that his superiors were in possesion of the video the whole time. If it weren't for these videos (plus several others, according to the chicago reader article on the topic) they would still be tucking it away and promoting officers they know to be killers and thugs.

Posted by chicagoan | July 18, 2007 2:22 PM


Officer Tietjen isn't back on the street beat. He's been safely tucked away in the Harbor Patrol unit.

Posted by Jonah S | July 18, 2007 2:48 PM

hey, chicagoan @8, do you have a link to that video? or where should i look for it? i wanna see it.

Posted by ellarosa | July 18, 2007 10:57 PM
Posted by Phil M | July 19, 2007 8:57 AM

Lee -- By these stix, Chicago's problem is 1,200 times worse (per capita, per annum) than Seattle's.

What's your criterion for declaring "Seattle, we have a problem"?

Posted by RonK, Seattle | July 19, 2007 12:06 PM

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