- Associated Press - Sunday, June 14, 2015

CHICAGO (AP) - Most Chicago police officers accused of misconduct aren’t found to be at fault and when they are face minor infractions with little punishment, according to a newspaper report published Sunday.

Nearly 75 percent of officers found to have committed some type of misconduct aren’t docked any time off or receive a few days suspension, according to the Chicago Tribune (https://trib.in/1L8xnd4 ). The newspaper analyzed Chicago Police Department records it obtained through an open-records request.

The newspaper reported that nearly 60 percent of all complaints are thrown out without being fully investigated because victims don’t sign required affidavits and an officer’s complaint history isn’t considered as part of the investigation.

Chicago police officials disputed the newspaper analysis, saying there are many complicated factors at play with complaints. Also, the Independent Police Review Authority, which investigates more serious complaints, said it’s not fair to single out officers for past complaints for which they were cleared.

But critics have said the system makes it difficult for people to file complaints and very few alleged victims claims are found valid. In a four year period ending in December 2014, investigators said fewer than 800 of the 17,700 complaints, roughly 4 percent, were “sustained.”

Most people who filed a complaint didn’t follow through by signing an affidavit, which is required by a 2004 change in the law backed by a police union. Nearly 60 percent of the 17,700 complaints where the affidavit wasn’t signed were never fully investigated.

The newspaper also found that officers with the most complaints didn’t face any discipline at all. In the same four-year period, the number of complaints among 11 officers racking up the most was 253. Of those, only one officer was punished with a five-day suspension.

“This sends a very bad message that … (officers) don’t have to worry too seriously about discipline,” said Samuel Walker, a University of Nebraska at Omaha professor emeritus of criminal justice.

The review authority’s spokesman, Scott Ando, said that officers who work in the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods often get the most complaints and affidavits protect them from false complaints. He added that the agency has made improvements recently by mediating more complaints, which helps cut down on investigation time.

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Information from: Chicago Tribune, https://www.chicagotribune.com


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