Chicago cops should face mandatory firing when they engage in the so-called “code of silence,” according to a nearly two-year study of the department’s disciplinary process.
The department should put officers on notice that they run the risk of sacrificing their jobs when they cover up for misconduct by their fellow officers, according to the “Preventing and Disciplining Police Misconduct” report released Tuesday.
Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Ron Safer, who is with the law firm Schiff Hardin, conducted the review for free along with A.T. Kearney, a management consultant firm. The review was first announced in January 2013.
The department already has adopted some recommendations of the study. For example, police Supt. Garry McCarthy recently approved a pilot program for officers to wear body cameras.
The department increased the number of officers in the department’s Bureau of Internal Affairs from 102 in 2013 to 125 this year, according to city officials.
And the Independent Police Review Authority, also an entity that investigates allegations of police misconduct, has reduced its backlog of pending cases and opened a satellite office on the West Side — with another planned for the South Side — to increase its visibility to citizens, city officials said in a prepared statement.
City officials noted that Chicago has started “procedural justice training” for every police officer. Other cities like New York have expressed interest in the program, which is intended to build officers’ understanding, fairness and respect for the public, according to the city.
The report not only addressed the potential problem of cops lying to cover up misconduct — but of citizens lying to get cops in trouble.
“We recommend that only certain false complainants — those who file either multiple false complaints or a single, particularly egregious, false complaint — be referred to the [Cook County] state’s attorney and face consequences for their actions,” the report said.
For the city, one of the practical purposes of the report is to help bring down mammoth legal expenses related to lawsuits against the police. Over the past decade, the city has spent more than half a billion dollars on police-related settlements, judgments, legal fees and other costs.
In a prepared statement, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said the city is making progress “to prevent the type of police misconduct that has occurred in the past, and to respond to any police misconduct swiftly, consistently and with transparency.”