A “landmark agreement” has been reached between the American Civil Liberties Union and Chicago police involving the department’s stop-and-frisk policy.
The agreement comes just months after the ACLU issued a report criticizing the department’s practices and calling the number of street stops by officers “troubling.”
Under the agreement, there will be an independent evaluation of CPD practices and procedures and increased transparency and public disclosure surrounding police investigatory stops.
Former U.S. Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys will evaluate the city’s practices and procedures and will oversee the agreement’s implementation. Keys will issue public reports twice each year on investigatory stops and pat downs by Chicago police, determining whether the department is complying with its legal requirements.
The agreement also called for heightened training of officers.
The agreement, announced Friday, comes nearly five months after a study from the ACLU raised concerns about the legality and constitutionality of the stops on Chicago streets, which often included pat downs or searches.
The report found that Chicago residents were stopped by police at a rate four times the amount of New York City residents and those stops were disproportionately focused on Chicagoans of color.
“When we issued our report a few months ago, it included a series of recommendations for change by the Chicago police,” Harvey Grossman, legal director for the ACLU said in a statement. “This agreement incorporates the bulk of those recommendations, and reflects the types of agreements that have been reached in other communities only after a long, protracted period of investigation and litigation. What we have done here is move past the litigation process and advanced directly to a collaborative process, to insure that stops on Chicago streets meet constitutional and legal standards.”
Police officers are allowed under the U.S. Constitution (Terry v. Ohio, 1968) to stop people if they have reasonable suspicion that the individuals, have been, or are about to be engaged in something criminal. Once someone has been stopped by an officer, the officer can frisk them if they have reasonable suspicion that they are dangerous and have a weapon.
Frisking often includes someone being ordered to put their hands up on something while an officer runs their hands over their body.
The practice is a tool for police officers to catch dangerous criminals in the act of illegal activity, but the ACLU reports that last summer there were over 250,000 police stops that did not lead to an arrest.
Of those stops, black residents were subject to 72 percent of them, despite being only 32 percent of Chicago’s population. Many of those stops came in majority black police districts.
Six African-American men from Chicago's South and West Sides, represented by attorneys at Romanucci & Blandin, LLC, seek to sue the city, Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy and 14 Chicago police officers, who have not been named.
The police department has defended these actions in the past, claiming the stops were made based on crime data, not racial profiling.
"As the men and women of the Chicago Police Department work to make our city safer and identify the small subset of individuals who torment our neighborhoods with violence, it is imperative that we use every tool and resource in a way that is not only lawful but respectful of the residents we serve,” Chicago Police Superintendent Garry F. McCarthy said in a statement. “We believe policing in Chicago must be strictly based on crime data, patterns, statistics and community intelligence, and this unprecedented agreement with the ACLU is a demonstration of CPD’s commitment to fairness, respect, transparency, and underscores our willingness to work side by side with everyone as we work toward our shared goal of keeping our neighborhoods safe."