Report: IPRA and the Police Board Systemically Failed to Protect Civilians; CRS Proposes FAIR COPS Ordinance

A new research report from Community Renewal Society finds that the two civilian oversight agencies charged with investigating and disciplining police misconduct in Chicago—the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) and the Police Board—are failing in their fundamental duty to protect the public. In response, Community Renewal Society proposes the FAIR COPS (Freedom through Accountability, Investigation, and Reform for Community Oversight of Policing Services) Ordinance, which would establish the Office of Police Auditor, a legitimately independent and transparent agency that would oversee the entire process of police oversight.

“The report definitively proves that IPRA and the Police Board have not effectively held police officers accountable for their actions. The Police Auditor would provide a critical layer of police accountability that is missing from our current system, and it would be the only truly independent oversight because it would remain outside of the mayor’s control,” said Reverend Curtiss DeYoung, Executive Director of Community Renewal Society.

The report, “Who Watches the Watchmen?”, finds:

  • Few police officers found guilty of misconduct face meaningful consequences. Since its inception in 2007, IPRA has investigated more than 10,000 separate allegations of excessive force, yet fewer than 150 officers received discipline for their misconduct. Moreover, data trends indicate that IPRA’s disciplinary recommendations have become significantly more lenient over the past few years. The average suspension recommended by IPRA plummeted from 16.2 days between 2008 and 2011 to 10.7 days from 2012-14.
  • The Police Board’s decisions in the most severe cases of misconduct reveals that many police officers who have been recommended for termination are, in fact, still patrolling the streets. Of the 88 sworn officers that IPRA recommended be discharged, the Police Board fired only 19 officers. In effect, only 2 officers were discharged for every 1,000 reports of police misconduct that IPRA investigated between 2008 and 2014.

The Office of Police Auditor is a permanent institution that would serve as an independent police accountability agency and have access to all police records and data in order to perform routine audits and reforms of the Chicago Police Department, the Independent Police Review Authority, and the Police Board. Though the Department of Justice has initiated a federal investigation of the Chicago Police Department, the investigation could span two years and its proposed reforms may only be temporary.

“The tragic case of LaQuan McDonald’s murder by Jason Van Dyke demonstrates why we need the FAIR COPS Ordinance,” said Rev. Robert Biekman, pastor of Maple Park United Methodist Church. “An officer with 20 past complaints against him and no crisis intervention training shouldn’t have been allowed on the streets, but there is no independent oversight now to look at these patterns and demand action. If the Mayor really cares about stopping tragedies like this one, he will act on the FAIR COPS today!”

FAIR COPS has been endorsed by the ACLU of Illinois, the Cook County Public Defender’s Office, the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Chicago Justice Project, and the Northern Illinois Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Download the Executive Summary or the Full Report.

For more information, contact Ryan Wallace at rwallace@communityrenewalsociety.org or 312-673-3852.

Graphic design for the report by Lauren Monaco

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