Revamped police review board under fire

June 13, 2008 5:02:25 PM PDT
Chicago's Independent Police Review Authority is investigating a police-involved shooting Wednesday that left a 16-year-old boy wounded. The revamped police review board has been in operation for less than a year. It doesn't appear that this revamped agency is much more effective than its predecessor, the Office of Professional Standards. The complaints of police misconduct and abuse -- hundreds of them -- are still filed every month.

"The police ran up behind him. They shot him in the back. My baby is paralyzed. Where is the justice in that?" said Sharon Burton, shooting victim's mother.

Sharon Burton stood outside the emergency room at Christ Hospital Friday morning where her 16-year-old son Jonathan Pinkerton remains in serious condition, partially paralyzed with a gunshot wound to the back.

The boy was shot Wednesday night while being chased by a Chicago Police officer. A department statement said the boy pointed a weapon at his pursuer before the officer fired.

"They thumped him in the back. This could have caused more damage to make my baby paralyzed," said Burton.

The case is under investigation by the city's six-month-old Independent Police Review Authority, which the mayor formed to replace the ineffective Office of Professional Standards.

Since last October, the IPRA has opened investigations into just over 1,200 allegations of police misconduct and abuse.

"Our investigators immediately came on the scene, and we are investigating," said Mark Payne, IPRA spokesman.

During the same six-month period, October to March, the IPRA issued reports on 364 investigations filed previously. The vast majority of cases, 346 charges, were either not sustained, unfounded or the officers exonerated. Only in 18 cases, fewer than 5 percent, did the IPRA sustain the misconduct allegations.

And while the agency's director Ilana Rosenzweig promised a finding within six months of an allegation, several high-profile cases, including the police shooting deaths of Aaron Harrison last summer and Freddie Wilson last fall, still have not been resolved.

"According to their own process guidelines, within six months there should be some resolution to that investigation. That has not happened," said Rev. Marshall Hatch, Leaders Network.

Rosenzweig was unavailable for comment. But her critics say there has been no change in their grading of the office since it was revamped last year by the mayor.

"So far we have to give an F. They have been under the radar, low key. In fact, the process of investigation is not clear," said Rev. Hatch.

An IPRA spokesman said the agency still has not hired enough investigators to handle its large caseload.

But the bottom line remains: six months later, IPRA, OPS, whatever you call it, is still under fire.


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