CHICAGO — A newspaper’s analysis of five decades of Chicago Police Department data shows a small number of officers had racked up more than 100 complaints each and that only an extremely small number of reports resulted in an officer’s dismissal.
The Chicago Tribune reported (http://trib.in/2eauWOZ ) Friday that another 62 officers each had at least 70 complaints, suggesting to some critics that the department could do more to identify and deal with problem officers. How the department handles citizen complaints is one of the central issues being examined by the U.S. Justice Department, which began a civil rights investigation in December, soon after the release of dashcam video showing a white officer fatally shooting black teenager Laquan McDonald 16 times.
The city of Chicago handed over the thousands of pages of internal police data Wednesday after a two-year court fight. A police union sought to block the release, arguing many complaints against officers are baseless and made by criminals seeking revenge.
In all, 125,000 complaints were made against 25,000 different officers between 1967 and 2014. Nearly 90 percent were determined to be false or lacking enough evidence. Of those cases in which wrongdoing was found, only one half of one percent resulted in the officer’s firing, the Tribune analysis found.
The Chicago Sun-Times also pressed for the release of complaint logs going back to 1967 and published a similar analysis this week.
A Chicago Police Department spokesman did not respond to a request for comment on the newspaper’s findings.
Nearly half of the officers identified in the data had five or fewer complaints. There was no information in the documents to indicate how many officers had no complaints.
The officer with the most was Jerome Finnigan, who was accused in 157 complaints during his two decades on the force. The former Special Operations Section officer is now in federal prison.
Sixth on the list is Lt. Glenn Evans, who had 115 complaints. The onetime commander was acquitted in December of charges alleging he stuck a gun down a suspect’s throat.
Some civil rights attorneys who have criticized the department’s disciplinary system said they were shocked by the number of complaints.
“Most Chicago police officers don’t get more than five (complaints) in an entire career,” attorney Jon Loevy told the Tribune on Thursday. “If the Police Department is truly interested in identifying the problem officers, then the clusters of complaints seem to be the obvious place to look.”
Information from: Chicago Tribune, http://www.chicagotribune.com