Chicago police officers are the subject of more brutality complaints per officer than the national average, and the police department here is far less likely to seriously pursue abuse cases than the national norm, a team at the University of Chicago reported Wednesday in an analysis of law enforcement data.
The report, The Chicago Police Department's Broken System, comes amid troubled times for the force, the nation's second largest, which is mired in accusations of misconduct and is the subject of open feuding among elected officials who disagree on aspects of its management.
According to the new report, rogue police officers abuse victims without fear of punishment, and the lack of accountability has tainted the entire department, resulting in a loss of public confidence. Patterns of abuse and disciplinary neglect were worst in low-income minority neighborhoods, said the authors, Craig Futterman, H. Melissa Mather and Melanie Miles.
The US average among large police departments for excessive-force complaints is 9.5 per 100 full-time officers. For a department of Chicago's size (13,500 officers, second only to New York), that would correspond to 1,283 complaints a year. From 1999 to 2004, however, citizens filed about 1,774 brutality complaints a year in Chicago.
Less than 5 percent of the department was responsible for nearly half the abuse complaints from 2001 to 2006.
Analyzing a broader array of complaints in another breakdown, the authors said that from 2002 to 2004, civilians filed 10,149 complaints accusing officers of using excessive force, conducting illegal searches and making false arrests and of abusing them sexually or on the basis of race.
And only 19 complaints led to a suspension of a week or more, said Futterman, a clinical professor of law at the University of Chicago.