Society

One In Three Chicago Police Have 10 Or More Complaints

| by Zach Cohen
Chicago Police OfficersChicago Police Officers

Almost a third of police officers in Chicago have at least 10 complaints filed against them. Sixty-two officers have at least 70 complaints, and seven have over 100. 

According to records obtained by the Chicago Tribune that date back to 1967, nearly half of Chicago's officers have five or fewer complaints against them. 

"If the Police Department is truly interested in identifying the problem officers, then the clusters of complaints seem to be the obvious place to look," civil rights attorney Jon Loevy told the Tribune. A police union had been blocking the release of the records since 2014.

Jerome Finnigan, a Special Ops officer currently serving 12 years in federal prison, was the worst offender, clocking in at 157 complaints. Finnigan, with a group of "rogue" cops, was found guilty in 2011 of committing robberies, home invasions and other crimes. 

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Lt. Glenn Evans, who was acquitted in December 2015 of charges alleging he stuck his gun down a suspect's throat, had 115 complaints, coming in at sixth on the list of "problem officers." 

Evans' lawyer, Victor Henderson, said that the number of complaints had to be "viewed in context... How tough is the district where that officer works? How hard is the officer working? And who is making the complaint -- someone with a long criminal record?"

Jamie Kalven, activist and co-founder of the Invisible Institute, a journalistic company in Chicago's South Side, celebrated the release of the records. "This is precisely the information we need to diagnose the underlying problems and pathologies in the police department," he told WBEZ. "There's now irreversible momentum for transparency in law enforcement."

The highest offenders are costing taxpayers millions in lawsuit settlements. Of the 25 officers with the most complaints, almost half have been involved in recent lawsuits that ended in settlements or judgments against the City of Chicago, totaling at least $4.3 million. 

Some of these "problem officers" have reputations unmarked by scandal. One officer, who had 130 complaints, was only recognized publicly for his role in a shootout that left two of his colleagues wounded. 

Two officers with a high number of complaints on file are only publicly known for rescuing trapped people from burning buildings. 

One "problem" officer is currently the commander of a district on Chicago's West Side. His file contains 90 complaints. 

Eighty-seven percent of the complaints resulted in no actions taken against the officers, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The remaining 13 percent resulted in anything from reprimands to suspensions to firings. 

Just 3 percent of complaints resulted in reprimands, which was the most frequently used form of discipline against an officer. Only 533 complaints resulted in the offending officer being fired. The most common reasons for firing an officer include testing positive for drugs, domestic altercations, and the use of a weapon against department policies. 

Sources: Chicago Tribune (2), Chicago Sun-Times, WBEZ / Photo Credit: Daily Kos

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