News Chicago’s Policing Problem
posted by July 18 at 11:45 AMon
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?