New analysis shows Chicago cops almost never disciplined for misconduct

SHARE New analysis shows Chicago cops almost never disciplined for misconduct

A new analysis shows how infrequently misconduct complaints against Chicago Police officers lead to actual discipline. | File photo

Chicago Police officers were disciplined in only 3 percent of more than 56,000 misconduct complaints filed over a 12-year period, according to a new analysis.

The University of Chicago Law School and the Invisible Institute posted the complaints Tuesday morning on a database available to the public.

Independent journalist Jamie Kalven, the founder of the Invisible Institute, obtained the information after filing a lawsuit against the city.

Previous news stories have reported that few officers face discipline over allegations of misconduct.

But the new database provides the most comprehensive look at police discipline.

The complaints cover 2001 through 2008 and March 2011 through March 2015.

Most of the department’s officers faced four or fewer complaints during those periods.

Jerome Finnigan and Keith Herrera — notorious corrupt cops — were among the five officers with the most complaints filed against them. Both former officers were accused of robbing drug dealers and have been convicted of felonies.

Finnigan faced 68 misconduct complaints and Herrera 67. Finnigan wasn’t disciplined until his 2006 arrest and Herrera was reprimanded once for “neglect of duty,” the records show.

Only 10 percent of the officers were accused of misconduct 10 or more times, but they accounted for 30 percent of the complaints.

And those “repeater” officers saw fewer of their complaints sustained than other officers.

Even when the complaints were deemed to be true, most discipline against officers involves suspensions of five or fewer days.

Anthony Guglielmi, a police spokesman, said complaints against cops have dropped 50 percent since Supt. Garry McCarthy took over in 2011.

“This data is available because this administration took the proactive step of creating a new policy to make it public last summer,” Guglielmi said. “We took this unprecedented move to build trust and partnership between residents and police.”

Guglielmi said the department is schooling officers in “procedural justice” and “police legitimacy” and launched an early warning system to flag cops who need more training.

The University of Chicago Law School and the Invisible Institute also looked at how race is involved in police discipline cases.

Black Chicagoans accounted for 60 percent of the complaints, but less than 25 percent of the sustained complaints. Black cops were found guilty of a higher percentage of offenses than white cops and they were punished twice as often.

Kalven said the information shows complaints against cops are not being properly addressed.

“Until now, the public hasn’t been given the department’s own evidence of that,” he said in a statement.

The information, which can be searched by an officer’s name, includes redacted reports providing details of the complaints and the Independent Police Review Authority’s recommendations of whether the officer should be disciplined — and how.

The Invisible Institute, the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times are continuing to seek a list of misconduct complaints dating to 1967, but the Fraternal Order of Police went to court to block the release. A court decision is pending.

Craig Futterman, a U. of C. law professor, said that information could help document claims of more than 100 people who are in prison and say the police tortured them under former Cmdr. Jon Burge.

Tuesday’s data release can be found at

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