Police Abuse

Complaints Against Chicago Cops Go Nowhere, Lead to No Real Penalties

17,700 complaints filed in four years



An analysis of data by the Chicago Tribune on the investigation of complaints against Chicago police by the Chicago police found that in a four year period, through the end of 2014, out of 17,700 complaints less than 800 were "sustained" by the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA). More than a hundred of those cops were able to resign before facing disciplinary measures—the vast majority of the remaining cops, 86 percent, received either a "violation noted," which came with no other disciplinary measure, or a suspension of less than five days. More than 10,000 of those complaints filed against police weren't investigated because the complainant wouldn't sign an official affidavit for police. When police departments usually find themselves innocent of wrongdoing, the fear that the victim will be treated as the wrongdoer instead is very real for anyone thinking about filing a complaint, especially when they've just been a victim of police, and especially if police have decided to charge that person with a crime. The IPRA claims it came to a "positive finding" in nearly half of the complaints filed against police—determining that the cop was justified in his actions and that the complaint was false.

Some cops can have dozens of complaints filed against them—the 11 worst had a combined 253 in the four year period, but only one was punished, with a five-day suspension for "neglecting his duties."  Police say it's not a case of bad apples but bad neighborhoods. From the Tribune:

Police officials objected to the Tribune's analysis, saying there are complicated factors at play. Officers routinely stack up complaints by working in Chicago's toughest neighborhoods. They said the affidavit law protects them from false complaints. And the Independent Police Review Authority, the city agency that investigates the most serious complaints, said it would be unfair to flag officers for past complaints for which they were cleared.

Earlier this year, when a judge threw out charges against a cop who shot his gun over his shoulder at a group of people while driving the wrong way down a one way street because the charges the prosecutor selected were too light, Chicago's police superintendent, Garry McCarthy, said prosecuting cops in instances like that one created a "safety hazard" for all Chicago cops.

The city of Chicago spends about $1 million in taxpayer money a week settling claims of police brutality that are going through the court system and not just the police's "independent" system. The police union, which helped push a 2004 law through that required signed affidavits for police complaints, insists those settlements reflect the city's unwillingness to fight in court and not wrongdoing on the part of the officer—such settlements generally come with explicit denial of admissions of any wrongdoing.

Read the whole Tribune piece here.

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  1. So much for Tribune reporters having access to any information related to any crime stories.

    1. nice

      1. OT: Why doesn’t my gravatar show up at H&R?

        1. because no one wants their gravatar subject to federal subpoenas.

          1. But my gravatar does want a federal subpoena. How do I fix it, tech support?

            1. well, first remove your email address- check.

              Second, live with the fact that gravatars aren’t welcome here.

              1. Well, allrightly then. Thanks, I guess.

    2. Something something Sarah Jessica Parker

      1. poor Ferris Bueller.

        1. That’s why he killed those people

  2. Police say it’s not a case of bad apples but bad neighborhoods.

    Hmm. This reminds me of something.

    1. The Wire?

    2. What are the police implying? Are they saying it’s “bad” neighborhoods that make cops go bad? Are they saying that instead of the cops controlling the bad people, the bad people make them bad? Wow. what an admission!

  3. Shocked.

  4. IS there a civilian oversight committee? Anywhere?

    1. Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA)

      This is exactly why the idea of civilian oversight of the cops is bullshit whitewashing.

    2. Sure. There’s lots of them. Their members are retired cops, police union representatives, and their family members. And they always come up with the correct ruling because they understand police work, unlike you and me.

  5. It’s not their fault! You don’t understand! Waaaaaah!

    1. yes, it’s them vs. animals- ANIMALS! They only respond to violence. It’s all they know. The good men and women in blue have exhausted every other method.

      that, or they need to get paid more in order to try different things.

      1. Anytime anyone says “we don’t want this to be an us vs them situation” they are in fact the sole party that created and perpetuates said situation.

        The submarine force was legend at that, and it’s sad to see similiar bullshit spread to the rest of the world.

  6. I like that the 11 worst offenders had 25 complaints each and the commissioners explanation is that people rack up complaints by ‘working in bad neighborhoods.’

    Okay – how many complaints does the average cop in those neighborhoods get in 4 years? Because if the average cop gets 5 or 6 complaints, then 25 seems a bit out of line with what you would expect.

    It’s also absolutely impossible that you could have 253 complaints and only one of them would be found to have merit and all that gets is a five day suspension.

    It’s also laughable that the Chicago Police Department thinks they have any credibility anymore. A drunk cop beat the shit out of a female bartender and other cops showed up to try to get her to drop the charges. They lost a massive lawsuit because of that.

    So they try to bully victims of cop brutality into silence, but obviously this ‘independent’ review board would never be slanted in favor of police.

    1. Oh, and the best part about the code of silence trial was that the city tried to get a judge to toss out the jury verdict on the grounds that the decision could cost Chicago tons of money in other litigation.

      So the jury verdict should be tossed because other people might then sue on the same grounds. That’s some solid logic.

      1. “Bake ’em away, toys!”


        “Just do what I said.”

  7. But, how will this affect Donald Trump’s presidential run?

  8. “Complaints Against Chicago Cops Go Nowhere, Lead to No Real Penalties”

    I think the solution to this is so obvious, no one’s even talking about it, and that’s to vote in more Democrats.

    Until Chicago throws all of its racist Republicans out of office, the police will never be held accountable.

    1. Yep! There’s a reason you never see problems with police brutality in liberal enclaves like New York, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco and LA!

      1. Yes!

        It’s because Democratic machines are effectively run by public employee unions–and most importantly–the police unions. So the only way to have any influence on the police union is to vote for Democrats.

        Because Republicans are racist and, besides, Sarah Palin thinks she can see Moscow from her kitchen window.

        If the police aren’t being held responsible, and all the water in California is being slurped up by Republicans, then the only answer is to vote for more Democrats. Because it’s the Democrats who aren’t racist.

        I know what some of you are thinking. There’s only one Republican out of 50 aldermen in Chicago:


        But what you don’t understand is that there still is one Republican there! And as long as he’s there, there’s no way the Chicago Police Department is ever going to be held accountable. Because Republicans are racist.

        I hope this cleared things up.

  9. Complaints Against Chicago Cops Go Nowhere, Lead to No Real Penalties

    **Shocked Face**

  10. Your lunch time derp: the most annoying dad ever?


    My friend Josh is a stay-at-home dad. Recently, someone asked me what Josh did before he was a stay-at-home dad. And I said, he was a stay-at-home.

    Home is where Josh has always shined. Home being the place he’d become absorbed in his many projects. Meticulously categorizing his music collection or stockpiling yet-to-be-read newspapers into tilting monoliths. Or, much to his neighbor’s sorrow, teaching himself to play the castanets. But now Josh’s newest home project, the project that’s taken over everything else, is the raising of his 20-month-old twin daughters, Matilda and Juliette. He brings to it a certain similar thoroughness.

    1. Even in the old days, Josh was difficult to get out of the house. Scheduling a beer together often required the kind of constant back and forth one usually associates with lunar landings. But now, getting together is pretty much out of the question. None of our friends ever see him, and he pretty much never returns anyone’s phone calls. People are starting to give up on Josh, and I guess I was starting to give up too. Until a recent conversation I had with his wife, LeeAnn.

      “Please get him out of the house,” she said. “Even just for an hour.” If Josh acts with LeeAnn anywhere near the way he does with me– that is, hostile, overly didactic, and so controlling as to forbid your use of certain words he doesn’t approve of, a constantly growing roster that, at last check included, goo, bum, smoothie and lover– the woman was in desperate need of a break.

    2. “”Please get him out of the house,” she said. “Even just for an hour.” If Josh acts with LeeAnn anywhere near the way he does with me– that is, hostile, overly didactic, and so controlling as to forbid your use of certain words he doesn’t approve of, a constantly growing roster that, at last check included, goo, bum, smoothie and lover– the woman was in desperate need of a break.”


      “Josh Karpati
      Let me give you– if there’s one word of advice I can give to new parents out there, it’s kill your pets now.

      Jonathan Goldstein
      Yeah, where are the cats?

      Josh Karpati
      I repeat my earlier statement.”

      This can’t be real.

      1. Josh is protective. Last time I saw him, we took the kids for a walk around the block. And as they started to doze in their carriage, fearing they might be awoken, he shushed a revving car, as well as a boy bouncing a ball on the sidewalk. For Josh, being a dad means forcibly remodeling the world so that it conforms to the needs of his children. No matter what.

        1. Sadly, this sounds like a ton of parents and politicians.

          Hey, if you don’t want to spend a lot of money, or your kids to see drinking, don’t attend a popular professional football game.

      2. The idea behind it is real.

        My wife wants a dog. She will not get a dog.

        1. *applause*

          If I wanted to smell piss and shit all the time, I’d live in a barn.

        2. Oh. c’mon, Playa. Get her a dog.

          I can strongly recommend these. Lazy (well, once they grow up), crazy friendly, and hi-larious. Utterly useless as a guard or watch dog, on account of being everyone’s friend.


          1. I have 3 boys under 7.
            Not gonna happen.

    3. Staying home to raise multiple kids seems completely reasonable. You can have a more in-depth relationship with your children, you can save on childcare costs to offset the lack of income, etc.

      Staying home when it’s you and a significant other? How much time does it really take to clean up after 2 adults?

      1. “I’m a stay-at-home son.”

  11. This just proves how baseless most complaints against cops are!


  12. OT: Donald Trump apparently just gave a speech announcing his run for president and he said he’s in favor of free speech right before saying he supported 35% tariffs on all foreign cars.

    His speech actually contained the line ‘when did we beat Japan at anything?’ which tells me Donald Trump slept through history class when they talked about the 40’s.

    1. “favor of free speech right ”

      Sorry – he said he supports free TRADE before saying he wants a 35% tariff. That’s what I meant.

  13. There aren’t any complaints from the “good neighborhoods” because the cops aren’t there. I lived in one of the richer neighborhoods of Chicago for three years. I can count on two hands how many times I actually saw a police officer in all that time – mostly during events at Navy Pier or on Michigan Avenue. And I understand why they’d spend more time in the neighborhoods with high crime, but let’s be real here. Do we think the small number of complaints from the rich neighborhoods indicates anything other than their utter lack of presence there? No cop ever told me to stop loitering on a street corner in Chicago even though I frequently did or asked me where I was going when I was on a midnight walk, which happened all the time. No police officer even approached me or looked at me. It’s just meaningless to claim that it’s happening in the bad neighborhoods, as I would expect it to because that’s where the police *always are*.

    1. I bet if you were sporting long hair, old jeans, and a concert tee, you’d have been stopped by every cop who saw you in that rich neighborhood until they had an excuse to arrest you or you got sick of it and either changed your appearance or left town.

      1. That actually reminds me. In Chicago, my boyfriend and I walked to the Walgreens a block away. He stayed outside waiting for me, but put his hoodie up because it was so cold. It was getting dark. All you could see was a tall guy with a hoodie and a pair of baggy jeans. A cop drove by him – unusual in this part of Chicago – pulled his car over to the side, and stared at him for a while. Then my boyfriend pulled his hood down and the guy could see he was white. That’s when he drove away.

        1. When I lived in Boulder the cops would harass me every time they saw me until I cut my hair and changed my wardrobe.

        2. That sounds right. Much easier to change than the color of your skin, fortunately.

      2. Dylan got arrested in NJ for being “scruffy” looking and acting suspiciously.

    2. There aren’t any complaints from the “good neighborhoods” because the cops aren’t there. I lived in one of the richer neighborhoods of Chicago for three years. I can count on two hands how many times I actually saw a police officer in all that time – mostly during events at Navy Pier or on Michigan Avenue.

      Really? I can go shopping on Michigan Avenue for a single afternoon and no longer be able to count on two hands how many cops I saw that day. So…really?

      1. That wasn’t my neighborhood, but when I would walk there, I just didn’t see them. I don’t know what to tell you.

  14. the 11 worst offenders had 25 complaints each

    “Good hustle, boys! Way to be an inspiration to them other lollygaggers.”

  15. I applied to be a Chicago cop in 2013. My thinking was “be the change you want to see”. I passed the initial application and got invited to sit for the entrance exam. I was also going to do a ride along at some point. But I got a job offer in TX so I went for that instead.

    I think it’s good that I never worked for them. It would be very hard to respect myself if I worked for such a corrupt organization.

    1. That, and you may have been the victim of “friendly fire.”

  16. The IPRA claims it came to a “positive finding” in nearly half of the complaints filed against police?determining that the cop was justified in his actions and that the complaint was false.

    Then in the majority of cases the police were found UNJUSTIFIED – and this by a group trying their damnedest to justify the actions!

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  18. We may not be able to change Chicago, but can we at least stop electing politicians from there to national office?

  19. Why should Chicago be different than any other major city? Why should run-a-muck cops not exist there, like everywhere else? Why should institutionalized violence be benign there, but a tragedy everywhere else? Why don’t people wake up? Why do people create police states? Why do they deny evidence right in front of their eyes, until it hurts them personally? Why do they suddenly get outraged only when it hits them or their friends/family? Are people really that depraved?

  20. There was this old saying about the problems of Chicago. “There is nothing wrong with that city that couldn’t be fixed if it were possible to have the police and the citizenry on the same side”. Seem still applicable.

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