Most complaints against Chicago police since 2017 made by African Americans, but had least sustained or upheld

CHICAGO (WLS) -- New data obtained and analyzed by the I-Team reveals the majority of complaints against Chicago police the past three years have been filed by African Americans, even though blacks make up less than a third of the city's population. While African Americans lodge the majority of complaints, they also have the smallest percentage of complaints upheld or sustained.

Recent street disturbances have produced a surge in complaints against officers. There are dozens more so far in June than during the entire month of May.

The I-Team has looked at complaints against CPD for three years, since 2017. Data from the Civilian Office of Police Accountability reveals of the 3,300 complaints where race was identified, about two-thirds were made by African Americans.

However, black complaints were sustained at the lowest rate, less than 4 percent of the time. That is compared to white accusers who filed less than one-tenth of all complaints but saw theirs sustained at the highest rate.

"The data raises an important question that has to be answered, and that is why are we seeing different outcomes depending on the race of the complainant?" said ABC 7 legal analyst Gil Soffer.

The former U.S. prosecutor said the data raises other questions.

"How many encounters do the police have with black people as opposed to white people?" Soffer asked. "And of that number what percentage result in allegations of misconduct, then you'd have to dig in and see and ask are there differences like kinds of complaints, and the kinds of conduct?"

Wednesday brought another hit to Chicago's police department. The City's Inspector General put out a scathing report on how helter-skelter CPD record-keeping is, finding the police department is even "unable to effectively determine what records exist."

"The risks here are enormous. The risks are of constitutional proportion," Deputy Chicago Inspector General Deborah Witzburg told the I-Team.

A new 58 page report from the inspector general found that "CPD's record management and production processes are inadequate" and that 74 percent of subpoenas tracked during a year-long period were mishandled.

"Criminal defendants and civil litigants are entitled to certain information in the police department's possession, and the fundamental fairness of outcomes in the criminal justice system and civil litigation depend upon the department's ability to identify what information it has, and to get that to the people who are entitled to it," said Witzburg.

Chicago police officials say even before the IG investigation began they had already implemented modernization improvements in record keeping, including an electronic document tracking system for all criminal cases. CPD admits there is more work to do.


"Well before the Office of Inspector General's (OIG) audit began, the Chicago Police Department (CPD) implemented several improvements to modernize its records management practices. To further ensure record-keeping standardization across the department, CPD has adopted an electronic document tracking system for all criminal cases, created an overarching database search tool to ensure complete records production of officer disciplinary history, provided training to attorneys and administrative staff on proper protocols to meet the Department's constitutional and legal obligations, and implemented a transformational reorganization to streamline operations and coordination between bureaus, sections and units.

"While the Department has either completed or taken substantial steps to address these recommendations, we know there remains more work to be done. That is why CPD is currently working to establish a Department-wide protocol for records production and management, as well as unit-specific standard operating procedures and will take the recommendations made by the OIG to build on those ongoing comprehensive reform efforts."
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