1% of Police Misconduct Complaints Lead to Discipline

1% of Police Misconduct Complaints Lead to Discipline

Study Shows Shocking Lack of Accountability by Chicago Police

We give police officers tremendous power. Life and death power. Along with that power comes tremendous responsibility. But who polices the police? What happens when the police abuse their power? In Chicago, absolutely nothing.

The highly respected American Bar Association Journal reported last month that just 1.2% of Chicago police complaints resulted in meaningful discipline. By that we mean suspension or firing.

If these statistics are not already depressing, we know that complaints against police officers are increasing. Despite record numbers of complaints, still nothing happens.

The data released in the ABA Journal comes from The Citizens Police Data Project. It was compiled by the Invisible Institute, a journalism project whose mission is to “enhance the capacity of citizens to hold public institutions accountable.” The project was done in collaboration with the University of Chicago Law School’s Legal Aid Clinic.

The study examined 111,698 cases of reported police misconduct in Chicago between 2000 and 2016. Just 1.2% resulted in meaningful discipline. From our own law enforcement experience, we know that many complaints are relatively minor. For example, a citizen that complains a police officer was double parked. No one gets fired that.

So what happens when we just limit our inquiry to serious complaints such as excessive force? The results were worse. Just 1.5% of these complaints were found in favor of the complaint. And often those were in more affluent neighborhoods.

We were even more disappointed to see that the Fraternal Order of Police, the union representing Chicago’s 12,000 police officers tried to block the release of police misconduct information.

The very officers that are sworn to protect us think they are above the law.

We are not suggesting all police officers are bad. The lack of transparency and the lack of discipline in serious misconduct cases should be alarming to everyone, however.

Seeking Jail Death and Police Misconduct Cases

It takes about 5 seconds of reading the Chicago study to realize that police misconduct is unchecked in Chicago. Does that mean we can handle every case where an officer violates your rights? No.

If you are a victim of police misconduct, chances are that your complaints to the police department will fall on deaf ears. Even if the department’s internal affairs detectives believe you, the police union and the “blue wall of silence” will make prosecution difficult.

We tell you this because asking the police to investigate themselves probably won’t work. (It’s like “pissing into the wind” as one client described the process.)

Knowing that the police won’t care or won’t be able to do much with your complaint, we also recommend that you always complain to elected officials. They can change things and if enough people demand justice, things can improve.

Civil Litigation Against the Police

State law, the U.S. Constitution and federal civil rights law make police misconduct illegal. Bad cops, the departments that employ them and their supervisors can be held accountable.

Numerous police departments have a dark past. Chicago is on that list but they are certainly not alone.

Our network of renowned attorneys is devoted to protecting your rights anywhere in the United States.

We are relentless in pursuing bad cops whose behavior results in death or catastrophic injuries. If you or a loved one has been shot, severely beaten resulting in serious injury, or sexually assaulted by law enforcement officers or jail personnel, call us

Want to learn more? Visit our police brutality and police misconduct information pages. Ready to take the next step? Contact us online or by phone at 866-836-4684.


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