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Crime, Corruption & Cover-Ups

"Our analysis of police corruption in Chicago yields four major findings," a team from UIC found.

"First, corruption has long persisted within the CPD and continues to be a serious problem. There have been 102 convictions of Chicago police since the beginning of 2000.

"Second, police officers often resist reporting crimes and misconduct committed by fellow officers. The 'blue code of silence,' while difficult to prove, is an integral part of the
department's culture and it exacerbates the corruption problems. However last November, a federal jury found that the City of Chicago and its police culture were partially responsible for Officer Anthony Abbate's brutal beating of a female bartender. After the civil trial to assess damages, the victim's attorney declared, 'We proved a code of silence at every level in the Chicago Police Department.'

Third, over time a large portion of police corruption has shifted from policemen aiding and abetting mobsters and organized crime to officers involved with drugs dealers and street gangs. Since the year 2000, a total of 47 Chicago law enforcement officers were convicted of drug and gang related crimes. The department's war on drugs puts police officers, especially those working undercover, in dangerous situations where they must cooperate with criminals to catch criminals. These endeavors require that CPD superiors provide a high degree of leadership and oversight to keep officers on the straight and narrow.

"Fourth, internal and external sources of authority, including police superintendents and mayors, have up to now failed to provide adequate anti-corruption oversight and leadership."


"The Cook County State's Attorney never prosecuted a single officer for any crimes related to [Burge-related] torture. And, there is no evidence that the Police Department ever disciplined any officer for failing to come forward with information about the tortures."


"In 2007, police consultant Lou Reiter testified in court that the department's lack of effective oversight was the product of 'deliberate indifference' by CPD leaders.

"The lack of an effective crackdown on police misconduct can be inferred from a 2007 study by University of Chicago law professor Craig Futterman.

"He found that only 19 of 10,149 (or less than [0.2] percent) civilian complaints of excessive force, illegal searches, racial abuse, sexual abuse and false arrests between 2002 and 2004 led to police suspensions of a week or more.

"The listing in our report of the 295 convicted police officers and their illegal activities demonstrate that corruption in Chicago Police Department is not confined to a few isolated cases. While people can debate whether the CPD has a culture that promotes corruption, the findings clearly show that the CPD has at the very least a culture that tolerates police misconduct and corruption."


"[P]olice officers do not fear being investigated by the Internal Affairs Department.

"Reiter concludes:

"These deficiencies in the administrative investigations of complaints, employee discipline and the adverse impact of the Code of Silence, has been noted by, documented for and relied upon managers and administrators within the Chicago Police Department. The failure to modify this systemic deficiency in the process by successive Police Superintendents, in my opinion, is indicative of a conscious choice by the Police Department to continue this practice of indifference to allegations of misconduct and police abuse including Constitutional violations."


"It should be clear we do not ascribe to the 'bad apple' theory of police misconduct. New York's famous Knapp Report explains:

"According to this theory, which bordered on official Department doctrine, any policeman found to be corrupt must promptly be denounced as a rotten apple in an otherwise clean barrel. It must never be admitted that his individual corruption may be symptomatic of underlying disease . . . A high command unwilling to acknowledge that the problem of corruption is extensive cannot very well argue that drastic changes are necessary to deal with the problem."


History of CPD oversight - each a reaction to scandal.

1960: Police Board created.

Tribune, March 5, 1960: "Council Approves New Police Board; Wilson Is Inducted: 4 'Urgent' Needs Of Department Described Wilson Tells New Board Of 4 'Urgent' Police Needs."

1966: Mayor creates Citizens Committee.

Tribune, July 26, 1966: "Daley Appoints 23 To Study Police Department."

1967: Superintendent reorganizes Internal Investigations Division.

Tribune, November 19, 1967: "Born in '60, I. I. D. Keeps Eye on City Policemen: Its Office Acts On Thousands Of Complaints."

1970: Internal Affairs Division created.

Tribune, September 23, 1970: "POLICE FORCE SHAKEUP PUTS 40 IN NEW JOBS: 2d Big Move Following Recent Survey."

1972: City Commission on Human Relations given role.

Tribune, May 13, 1972: "Won't Change Police System, Conlisk Insists: CHICAGO'S TROUBLED POLICE."

1973: Knoohuizen Report.

1974: Office of Professional Standards created.

Tribune, February 13, 1974: "Exclusive Interview: IAD Failed To End corruption: [Chief]."

2007: Independent Police Review Authority created.

Sun-Times, November 1, 2007: "Key To Police Watchdog's New Name: 'Independent.'"

[Headlines by The Beachwood Value-Added Affairs Desk]


"The problem of police corruption in Chicago is not simply that there are occasional flawed police officers. Nearly all officers join the police force because they desire to serve and protect not serve and collect. By far, most officers are law abiding, dedicated public servants.

"The real problem is that an embarrassingly large number police officers violate citizens' rights, engage in corruption and commit crimes while escaping detection and avoiding discipline or prosecution for many years."


"Fraternal Order of Police leadership and members of the City Council have repeatedly opposed establishing a powerful independent Police Review Board."


Recommendations include:

"1. The Mayor and City Council should enact legislation to replace the current appointed Police Board with either a democratically elected civilian Police Board or a new appointed board with such high caliber members as good government advocates and civil right leaders, former federal prosecutors, inspector generals, or respected former public defenders or eminent retired judges.

"In either case, the new board's purview must not be limited to cases referred by the superintendent or IPRA and appeals from individual officers. It also should have the power hire special inspectors to conduct investigations. And, it must be empowered to refer cases to the State's Attorney and U.S. Attorney.

"2. The Cook County State's Attorney must allocate sufficient resources for its public integrity unit to improve its prosecution of police corruption. The State's Attorney should issue an annual report on its efforts to curb police corruption and establish better procedures to encourage residents to confidentially report criminal police misconduct.

"3. The Mayor and City Hall should report to the public the cost of police corruption and make information about police corruption cases easy to access. It should report the cost of investigating, defending and settling police corruption cases in its annual city budget and make it available on the city's website along with a searchable database with all indictments and convictions of police officers."


Comments welcome.


Posted on December 8, 2015

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