In the Reports

The Weekly's breakdown of the Police Accountability Task Force report

In December of 2015, in the wake of uproar around the release of video footage showing the murder of LaQuan McDonald, Mayor Rahm Emanuel established a Police Accountability Task Force to review and evaluate the standards and practices of the Chicago Police Department. On April 13 this Task Force released a 180-page report calling for significant reforms in the way the CPD polices neighborhoods, interacts with people of color, disciplines officers, and treats arrestees and detainees. Below, we have highlighted a few key numbers and phrases from the report, which is available online at

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Number of sworn officers in the CPD, the second-largest police force in the nation:  12,500

Salary of a new police officer after probationary period:  $70,380

Latest year for which there is trend-based analysis of crime data available on CPD’s Data Portal:  2010

Phrase used in the report to describe challenges faced by the police in fighting crime:  “increasingly daunting”

Phrase used to describe CPD methodology:  “not sufficiently imbued with Constitutional policing tactics and … also comparatively void of actual procedural and restorative justice”

Presented without comment:  “The Task Force heard over and over: just because you can use force, does not mean you should use force.” 

How many times the phrase “code of silence” appears in the report:  19

…And the phrase “culture of accountability”:  8

Approximate number of cases involving civil rights allegations against a police officer handled by the city between 2010 and 2015:  2,000

Amount of money paid out by the City in settlements and legal fees between 2010 and 2015:  $376.9 million

…Amount the city has spent to date on settlements, judgments and legal fees relating to Jon Burge alone:  “upwards of $100 million”

Number of complaints for “less serious transgressions” filed against a police officer by a supervisor between 2010 and 2015:  20,922

…Percentage filed due to a failure to show up for a mandatory court appearance:  45%

Number of Complaint Registers (CRs) an officer needs to have between 2010 and 2015 before the Task Force recommends their “fitness for duty” be assessed:  10

Approximate number of officers with 10 or more CRs between 2007 and 2015:  1,572

Number of CPD arrestees in 2014 who had attorneys:  3 out of every 1,000

…In 2015:  6 out of every 1,000

Judge’s description of testimony given by a CPD detective who interviewed suspect while suspect was sedated on morphine:  “garbage”

Combined instances of the words “sadly,” “unfortunately,” “woefully,” “badly broken,” and “tragically”:  22

Percentage of those shot or killed by police officers between 2008 and 2015 who were African-American:  74%

Phrase used to describe the dismissal of manslaughter charges against Dante Servin, the off-duty officer who shot Rekia Boyd in 2012:  “an odd twist”

Percentage of those tasered by police between 2012 and 2015 who were African-American:  76%

Percentage of traffic stops in 2013 involving African-Americans:  46%

Rate at which CPD found contraband during searches of white motorists, compared to both Hispanic and African-American motorists:  twice as often

Percentage of African-Americans in Chicago’s population:  about 33%

Phrase used to describe present relationship between CPD and youth of color:  “antagonistic, to say the least”

How many times the word “racism” appears in the report:  14

Number of officers enrolled in one of the CPD’s two behavioral intervention programs in 2007:  276

…In 2013:  0

…In 2015:  13

Percentage of CPD officers the Task Force recommends be trained in crisis intervention:  35%

…Percentage currently trained in crisis intervention:  15%

Number of people admitted to Cook County Jail in 2012:  76,400

…Number of those admitted who were living with mental illness:  46,000

Number of homeless people detained overnight at Cook County Jail last year:  2,134

…Percentage of those flagged for mental illness:  34%

Instances of word “trauma” in the report:  33

Institutional bodies recommended for dissolution by the Task Force report:  IPRA, CAPS

New acronyms for respective replacement organizations:  CPIA, CEED

Phrase used to describe the state of “the CAPS brand”:  “significantly damaged”

Phrase used to describe IPRA’s and the Bureau of Internal Affair’s review processes:  “opaque, drawn out and unscrutinized”

Percentage of IPRA and BIA complaints filed by African-Americans:  61%

…By whites:  21%

Percentage of sustained complaints filed by African-Americans:  25%

…By whites:  58%

Word used in the report to describe community’s lack of trust in CPD:  “justified”


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In addition to examining the PATF report, the Weekly also took a look at several past municipal and federal investigations of the Chicago police, stretching back to the very end of the nineteenth century. What follows are anecdotes that attest to what’s changed and what hasn’t.

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The Berry Committee was put together in order to investigate the management of police in Chicago. It found that “the law, as administered by the present administration, is a sham and a delusion.”

We quote one instance: An examination had taken place for a certain office. Only three men passed the examination. There was a vacancy in that office. The man who stood highest was certified by the Commission to the foreman of that department. He presented his certificate, which entitled him to the office, to the foreman. He hesitated a moment, but at once arose to the occasion, and informed that Civil Service man that he had that morning abolished that particular office, and therefore he could not be appointed, and he was not: while this same foreman placed a man in that position, but under another name, who at the time your committee was in session was doing the work and drawing the salary which, under the law, the other man was entitled to. The difference seemed to be, one was qualified and had complied with the law, but did not have any particular pull, while the other man had neither passed the examination nor was qualified according to law, yet the mayor, and his appointees wanted him, and that was sufficient to procure his appointment.

Many of these men, whose records they had before them, had been discharged from the [police] service, many of them two and three times, some as high as six and seven times, and they were discharged for such offenses as intoxication; being found drunk while on duty: found intoxicated in saloons; off duty without permission; firing pistols in the street while on duty and under the influence of liquor; willful maltreatment of prisoners; willful maltreatment and assaults upon citizens; immoral conduct and conduct unbecoming a police officer.

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The “Chicago Police Report of the Chicago Civil Service Commission” was commissioned by Mayor Carter Harrison, Jr. in order to investigate a “criminal conspiracy” between the Chicago police and illegal gambling operations. The investigation ended up becoming more extensive, though; in this excerpt, the Report condemns the working of the United Police, a secret policemen’s order that primarily provided legal aid to its members.

The organization, composed of members of the Police Department and known as the United Police of Chicago, is inimical to the best interests of discipline. Its original purpose, namely, to protect members of the department from suits for damages arising out of the performance of police duty, was in itself harmless, but there should be no necessity for such an organization. The city of Chicago should take care of such suits, and hold members of the department harmless, unless it clearly appears that the policeman sued has been guilty of the improper use of his power, or abuse of his authority.

The purposes of the organization, however, have been greatly enlarged, and now it defends its members at trials for breaches of departmental rules and regulations, collects and disburses funds to influence legislation, and has been charged with a conspiracy to secure salary advances by means of bribery.

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This report to the City of Chicago’s Committee on Human Relations was commissioned after the April riots caused by the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

The question of police-community relations lingers as an issue. Where there is strong neighborhood feeling against the police, racial incidents can easily be whipped into serious conflict. The Chicago Police Department continues to be caught in the middle, pressured to take more vigorous steps to curb crime yet aware that even routine police action can result in a riot-provoking incident.

To increase the Police Department’s human relations sensitivity, the Law and Order Department staff assisted in training police personnel. Commission representatives lectured to 1163 recruits about civil rights laws and to 511 pre-service and command officers about human relations. Topics included current developments in the civil rights movement and an evaluation of the climate within Negro and Spanish-speaking communities, stressing the importance of impartial enforcement of the law. During the spring, staff participated in special training of an additional 1138 task force police in human relations. The staff also participated in a Human Relations Seminar for 278 command officers ranging in rank from Lieutenant to Deputy Chief.

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This report, titled “The Misuse of Police Authority in Chicago,” was chaired by U.S. Representative (and track and field world record holder) Ralph H. Metcalfe. The impetus for the report came from “the community outcry against abuse of authority by Chicago policemen.”

There can be no dispute that police mistreatment of citizens occurs. Even Superintendent James B. Conlisk, Jr., has agreed that the use of excessive force is a reality.

How often does it occur? There are only rough measures: more than twelve hundred (1200) citizen complaints of abusive police conduct each year to the Police Department: and yet other complaints that are never compiled and counted.

Comparative information is available as to the frequency of the ultimate form of abusive police conduct: civilian deaths at the hands of police officers. According to a report by the Chicago Law Enforcement Study Group, the use of fatal force by police is far more frequent in Chicago than in other major urban centers. “Chicago’s civilian death rate (at the hands of law enforcement officers) was nearly one and one-half times the Philadelphia rate and more than three times the rate for New York, Los Angeles and Detroit.” Significantly, 75% of the civilians killed in Chicago were black.

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Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez was one of five members of the Commission on Police Integrity that authored the report that contains the following excerpt.

The need for a sophisticated and thorough early warning system can be seen in the backgrounds of the ten officers currently under indictment from the Austin and Gresham districts. According to the information presented to the Commission, the seven indicted Austin officers had a total of 93 complaints numbers lodged against them during their respective careers. in only two of the cases were the allegations sustained. The three indicted officers from the Gresham District had a combined 40 CR numbers during their careers, with only three being sustained.

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A painful but necessary reckoning is upon us. That is what these times demand.

The Police Accountability Task Force arose amidst a significant and historic public outcry. The outcry brought people into the streets, on social media and on other venues to say in a very clear voice that they had reached a breaking point with the entire local law enforcement infrastructure. People were and are demanding accountability and real and lasting change. The outcry was not localized in any particular neighborhood or demographic, although communities of color and those ravaged by crime added some of the most poignant commentary.

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