Use of force

Black Chicagoans More Likely to Face Use-of-Force by CPD, OIG Study Finds

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Black Chicagoans are more likely to be stopped by CPD officers, according to a new report by the Office of theIinspector General, and when they are, they are more likely to face use of force.

That is the conclusion reached by a new report published by the OIG based on data gathered from Oct. 17, 2017, through Feb. 28, 2020.

“Where disparities were identified,” the OIG said, “they consistently disadvantaged Black people and consistently advantaged White people.”

The report's findings shed light on the disparities in use of force based on race and ethnicity, according to some activists and experts.

“This has been a problem for decades,” said Ed Yohnka, the Director of Communications and Public Policy for ACLU Illinois

Specifically, the OIG said the data shows:

  • Given an investigatory stop, Black people were subjected to a search of their person 1.5 times more frequently than non-Black people, and also subjected to a pat-down 1.5 times more frequently than non-Black people.
  • Black motorists’ vehicles were searched in 0.95% of traffic stops, which made searches of Black motorists’ vehicles 3.3 times more frequent than searches of White motorists’ vehicles (0.29% of traffic stops of White motorists) and 1.6 times more frequent than searches of all non-Black motorists’ vehicles (0.60% of traffic stops of all non-Black motorists).
  • Black people were overrepresented—relative to their share of those stopped—in investigatory stops that lead to uses of force in 17 out of 22 CPD Districts (77%).
  • Across all CPD Districts, White people were either underrepresented or proportionally represented—relative to their share of police stops—in uses of force following those stops.
  • Thirteen percent (13%) of Black people who faced a use-of-force were subjected to a less-lethal weapon or a lethal weapon, whereas 9% of White people were subjected to a less-lethal weapon and none were subjected to lethal weapon force in the period of analysis.
  • For subjects who were reported to have used deadly force, Hispanic people had higher odds than non-Hispanic people of facing a higher-level force option in most cases.

But those who have been working for police reform say the time for studies has passed and the time to do the hard work should begin.

“The problem is we have to stop identifying the problem and start working toward some solutions,” Yohnka said.

The Chicago Police Department is currently operating under a federal consent decree, and says it is re-writing its policies and retraining its officers for things like foot pursuits.

CPD did not respond to inquiries from NBC 5, but Superintendent David Brown did respond to the inspector general's report.

“A further analysis of the facts and circumstances around these stops and uses of force would be necessary to fully understand the complexities of the reported disparities," he said.

The ACLU says addressing disparities and restoring trust in the department will eventually make Chicago a safer city.

“Reform will get us toward additional public safety; reform will get us to address these problems,” Yohnka said.

The OIG said the report does not offer recommendations, but it does offer insight into where the Chicago police department can concentrate its reform efforts.

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