Civil rights advocates on Thursday said a memo by a Chicago police commander appeared to set illegal quotas for cops to stop suspected gang members for traffic violations.
Anthony Escamilla, commander of the Grand Central police district, launched a mission to address “an uptick in violence between the Spanish Cobras and Latin Brothers,” according to a memo on Monday to his lieutenants. The memo was first posted on the Second City Cop blog.
The memo gave a schedule for three two-hour missions over a 24-hour period.
“The two cars assigned will each be responsible for conducting a minimum of 10 documented traffic stops during the mission,” Escamilla said.
They were expected to stop cars between Laramie and Pulaski and Diversey and Fullerton.
The goal is “to attack the main arteries these gangbangers use to commit violence against each other. This will be accomplished by the officers making timely stops of cars belonging to these gangs who are in violation of the traffic laws,” Escamilla said.
Karen Sheley, of the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, called the memo “concerning.”
“The police department should not be using quotas to direct officers. It raises concerns that officers may engage in stops that may not be justified. This could lead to poor community relations and puts officers in a bad position as well,” Sheley said.
Sheley pointed to a state law that took effect in 2015 and prohibits quotas. “A municipality may not require a police officer to issue a specific number of citations within a designated period of time,” the law says.
She also said such missions are one of the techniques the Justice Department criticized in last year’s scathing report on the Chicago Police Department.
“At one COMPSTAT meeting we observed, officers were told to go out and make a lot of car stops because vehicles are involved in shootings. There was no discussion about, or apparent consideration of, whether such a tactic was an effective use of police resources to identify possible shooters, or of the negative impact it could have on police-community relations,” the DOJ report said.
In an emailed statement, Chicago Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said: “CPD does not have a policy or directive that applies quotas to any type of enforcement activity. The internal memorandum was issued by District Commander Escamilla to members of his management team where he outlined parameters of the District’s traffic missions, designed to combat a rise in vehicle related shootings. It was not sent to officers, since his intention was to provide guidance for what supervisors could reasonably expect with respect to lawful traffic stops during the mission times.”
Contributing: Fran Spielman