CRIME AND CRIMINALS: MURDER HOMICIDE : POLICE BRUTALITY : UNITED STATES: CITIES: CHICAGO, ILLINOIS : STATISTICS : DATA: How To Predict Bad Cops In Chicago FROM Five Thirty Eight Politics
David P. Dillard
CRIME AND CRIMINALS: MURDER HOMICIDE :
POLICE BRUTALITY :
UNITED STATES: CITIES: CHICAGO, ILLINOIS :
How To Predict Bad Cops In Chicago FROM Five Thirty Eight Politics
How To Predict Bad Cops In Chicago
FROM Five Thirty Eight Politics
By Rob Arthur
A shorter URL for the above link:
At the heart of the reaction to the McDonald case are the questions of whether officers like Van Dyke are the exception or the rule, and how much responsibility the police department has to identify and discipline violent officers, as well as those who commit other types of misconduct.
The few bad apples theory of police violence posits that a small portion of the police force is ill-intentioned or inclined to misconduct or violence, while the majority of officers are good cops. Until recently, this theory was difficult for civilians to investigate, but department data on complaints against officers obtained through a legal challenge shows that police misconduct in Chicago is overwhelmingly the product of a small fraction of officers and that it may be possible to identify those officers and reduce misconduct.
This far-reaching data set, a product of the nonprofit Invisible Institutes Citizens Police Data Project, comprehensively covers nearly five years of complaints against Chicago police officers. Each of the 28,588 records in the database offers a detailed account of the incident, including information on the accused officer, the complainant, the type of alleged misconduct, and whether the complaint was found legitimate by an internal investigation. The data is broken into subcategories depending on the specific allegation, but here are the most common types of complaints. (Instances of excessive force, like that alleged in the McDonald case, make up about two-thirds of the category Arrest & Lock-up.)
This data wasnt released without a fight. Jamie Kalven, writer and founder of the Invisible Institute, spent years investigating police misconduct in Chicago public housing projects but was frustrated by the departments failure to release any information on the subject not even its own records of complaints against officers. In collaboration with the University of Chicagos Mandel Legal Aid Clinic, Kalven pursued lawsuits against the department, first forcing the city to release lists of the officers with several complaints against them. The Invisible Institute then filed a series of Freedom of Information Act requests to obtain all complaints against police officers from Jan. 1, 2011, through Dec. 7, 2015. (Efforts to compel the release of still more complaint data are ongoing but are at risk because of legal action by the Fraternal Order of Police.)
The extensive catalog of complaints against officers appears to bear out the theory of a few bad apples: Among the 7,758 police officers who received a complaint during that time period, more than half received less than one per year (officers with zero complaints do not appear in the database). Meanwhile, the bad apples seem to be the ones racking up the grievances.
To avoid the overworked bad apple metaphor, the Invisible Institute prefers to call officers with many complaints against them repeaters. Repeaters only make up a small fraction of the more than 12,000 officers on Chicagos force perhaps 1 percent to 10 percent of the officers in the database, depending on where you draw the line but are responsible for a huge fraction of the complaints: 10 percent of the officers who had received complaints generated 30 percent of the total departmental complaints since 2011. The 10 individual repeaters with the most complaints in the past five years averaged 23.4 complaints against them in that span.
In addition to the outsize number of complaints, Kalven said, repeaters have broader, cultural impacts, both within and outside of the department. Within the department, repeaters might normalize misconduct toward residents, pushing other cops toward wrongdoing. Outside of the department, the behavior of these officers can turn the community against the police. Thats what the few bad apples theory doesnt capture: the kind of compounding, metastasizing arms that flow from the impunity of bad cops, Kalven said.
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