Mayor Emanuel announced today that he’s immediately implementing some of the recommendations from the Police Accountability Task Force he created in December.
That comes as good news to two of the report’s authors, though they say the more than 100 recommendations they made to the mayor weren’t intended to be implemented in piecemeal fashion. It’s all a big, integrated whole, and no one piece will work well if everything isn’t begun at the same time, they tell us.
“I think you have to look at all the recommendations in the ecosystem,” asserts the MacArthur Foundation’s Maurice Classen, a Task force panelist. “This is maybe a first step, but there’s more steps to come and our expectation is that that will take place over the coming days and weeks, not months and years.”
Nevertheless, Classen and co-author Victor Dickson (Safer Foundation) tell us they feel very optimistic that the people of Chicago and the Police Department could embrace this report and use it as a roadmap for genuine reform. It’s an opportunity for everyone involved, including Mayor Emanuel, to acknowledge that there are deep, historic maladies, and that everyone has a stake in making profound changes, they say.
“The #1 reason that people obey the law is because they believe it to be legitimate. And so what we tried to do with our entire task force was make recommendations to rebuild that sense of legitimacy as a basis to rebuilding trust in the community,’ Classen says.
We discuss many aspects of the report during this hour-long conversation, but we begin with issues the Task Force raised about the City’s contract with the FOP, the police officers’ union.
“An officer can make a statement and then once they are provided the video evidence they can amend the statement without being charged with making a false statement because they now have a piece of evidence they’ve seen, Classen explains. “Well, I was a criminal prosecutor for almost a decade. The idea that you should be able to change your statement is just crazy. You should be held accountable for what you said, so we believe that rule should actually be changed.”
“So if you’re trying to investigate police misconduct you want to do that investigation onsite, want to get the statements, but they in their contract have the ability to wait I think it’s 24 hours,” adds Dickson, referring to cases involving police shootings.
“There’s a provision in the contract that allows an officer to make a statement and then they find out that there’s a video of that event, look at that video and then change the statement so it is more consistent with the video,” Classen continues. “So in other words you could lie about what happened in an official report that you file and then turn around and change that report after seeing the video. And then there’s no consequence to you making a false statement in the beginning, because the contract allows you do that. You think about any other workplace where you be able to do that.”
There are also concerns about police officers’ ability to avoid revealing to the City any outside employment, some of which might conflict with their policing responsibilities.
“Most other employees across the City of Chicago have to get permission for their secondary jobs and they consider what actually those jobs are” Classen explains. “CPD officers, there isn’t this policy that requires them to report exactly what the job is and getting permission for it. And we think there are certain times where some of those jobs may be more challenging and taking more energy away from certain officers and getting to this point about burnout. There may be certain situations where it’s just not appropriate to have a certain type of secondary job or secondary employment because it could lead to increased burnout.”
Although there may be a public perception that the report, which contains strong language about race and power, may be anti-police, these Task Force members insist that their report argues in favor of re-investment in policing and police personnel.
“I mean, officers themselves are being failed by the system,” Classen says. “They are not being provided the tools that they need to succeed. I would actually argue that the majority of our report are recommendations that are meant to help officers do their job better.”
“We’re spending, you know, $640-million on settling cases,” Dickson explains. “And all of that kind of money, if we would start investing some of that money in the things that the police need to do their job more effectively, to learn how to de-escalate situations, you know, to have the right kind of tools that they use, less lethal force kind of tools that they can use, all those things would eliminate the need for a lot of that settlement.”
The panel called specifically for the elimination of the Independent Police Review Authority. This despite the panelists’ respect for IPRA’s leader. “Sharon Fairley, the new head, has made an incredible effort to reform the department, but at a certain point a brand becomes too damaged. And sort of the name IPRA, at least what we found in the community, is seen as illegitimate and had no accountability and was broken.”
The report calls for rapid deployment of body cameras for all officers.
“Anecdotal evidence in Oakland, which has had body cams for the last five years because the Department of Justice’s consent decree there, they’ve seen astronomical drops both in complaint and use of force,” Classen claims. “Complaints are down 50% over five years and use of force is down 60%, maybe flipping those statistics, but both it’s incredible. And I think part of it what it does is it provides transparency both for officers and for citizens.
In a late development, Mayor Emanuel and the City Council signaled on Friday that they would wait to implement many of the more difficult reforms, such as replacing IPRA and asking to renegotiate aspects of the FOP contract until after the release of the Justice Department probe, which could be a year or more away. In our discussion, though , both panelists encouraged the mayor to act more quickly.
“So I think this is an opportunity for him to take hold of the narrative and drive home a successful model and reform the department before DOJ implements a potential consent decree, Classen argued. “We not only would be saving our community, we would be building a stronger police force and we would be saving ourselves a heck of a lot of money.”
You can read the entire transcript of this show as a Word document here:CN transcript April 21 2016
Or read the full transcript below the break.
Ken: Yesterday, April 20th Chicago surpassed 1,000 shootings. The Chicago Police Department is on the hot seat. The Mayor of Chicago says he wants to fix the Police Department and he impaneled a special commission to do it. The commission spent four months. They came with recommendations, a lot of them. Now the question is can they be implemented in a good and decent way? We’ll talk about that on Chicago Newsroom.
Well hi there, and welcome to another edition of Chicago Newsroom here on CAN TV. I am Ken Davis and we’re glad you’re with us today. It’s called the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force. Some people call it Mayor Emmanuel’s Police Accountability Task Force, because after all he impaneled it. And yes indeed they did come back with a bunch of recommendations, more than 100 of them and some of them are really big.
We’re going to talk about those today, but I thought I would just do a little bit of a pull quote from the executive summary of the report. “The community’s lack of trust in CPD is justified. There is substantial evidence that people of color, particularly African-Americans have had disproportionately negative experiences with the police over an extended period of time. Another one the task force heard over and over again from a range of voices, particularly African-Americans, that some CPD officers are racist, have no respect for the lives and experiences of people of color and approach every encounter with people of color as if the person, regardless of age, gender or circumstance is a criminal.” Those are the kind of things in this report.
So, we’re turning today to two of the people who helped write the report who were kind of in there with their sleeves rolled up for the last four months and are here today to tell us about that whole experience. I’m speaking of Victor Dickson who is the CEO of the Safer Foundation, so glad to have you with us Mr. Dickson, and Maurice Classen with the MacArthur Foundation, glad to have you here too.
00:02:19 We should begin by acknowledging that your report has had quite a bit of response in the news media. It’s been all over the place, and the Mayor apparently curled up by the fireplace over the weekend and read it, he says completely, and came into work and said, “That’s it, we’re going to make some of these changes immediately.” So by executive order he claims he has already implemented about a third of your 100 or so recommendations. We don’t know what that means exactly, but I’m sure that must make you both feel good.
Victor D: I think it’s a good start and we are pleased that there are some recommendations that are being embraced quickly. When we put together the recommendations, well over 100 recommendations, we looked at it as kind of an eco-system. I mean there were things that needed to be done in different aspects of the Police Department operation, and it was very important for all of those things to be done. So we would hope that this is a good start, you know, let’s move on and adopt the other recommendations as well.
Maurice C: To Victor’s point I mean I think you have to look at all the recommendations in the ecosystem, so this is maybe a first step, but there’s more steps to come and our expectation is that that will take place over the coming days and weeks, not months and years.
Ken: One assumes that this is the low-hanging fruit if they can be implemented so quickly and be implemented by mayoral edict then my reaction to that is well then these could have been done anytime. The tough ones are going to be the things we’re going to start talking about here right now I’m sure.
00:04:11 74% of the 404 people shot by the Chicago Police Department between ’08 and 2015 were black according to the report. So we are not talking about an insignificant issue here. We’re talking about disparity that’s just overwhelming.
Victor D: Yes, I think we heard a lot from the community, over 750 people came to the forums and there was just a continuous stream of statements from people of all ages, all socioeconomic backgrounds all over the City about these issues. And so one of the things that we did was we said well we have all this anecdotal information, let’s just see if any of the facts support some of these things that we’re hearing. And so we gathered facts from the Police Department and from other studies that have been done and the ACLU they’ve done some work as well. So we looked at a lot of information and we saw these patterns, and it’s not easily explained simply by, of course, ‘that happens because there’s more crime in those communities.’ Because we also saw disproportionate negative encounters with police in communities that are not predominantly black. You know things like for example DUI checkpoints. The majority of the people who are involved in accidents under the influence of alcohol are actually white, but usually the checkpoints are set up in African-American and Hispanic communities. So it went beyond the things that you would think are just the normal explanations, and so it appeared that there was some validity to the complaints that were being voiced.
Ken: The disproportionality.
Victor D: Yes, of the disproportionality.
Ken: Where I would really like to begin with this I think is the most difficult aspects of this whole interaction that you guys bring up, that some of this, a great deal of the… It’s hard to put this in a single basket, but many of the problems that we associate with police community relations, and especially those that have been amplified since Laquan McDonald, have their origins in the FOP contract, and you guys have really made very clear that there are issues with the FOP contract. “Bargaining agreements have turned the code of silence into official policy,” I believe is the way you put it. So let’s start enumerating some of these things. What are the top 10 hits here of things that you found wrong with the contract that the City of Chicago has with the Police Union?
Maurice C: I’ll start by saying that as Victor mentioned we didn’t just look at one set of data when trying to analyze each of the problems that we encounter when we’re reviewing the Police Department’s relationship with the community and the relationships within the Department. We tried to look broadly and use national examples and compare and contrast. And so what we did with the FOP contract was look to national examples, looked to other consent decrees, looked to national experts like the National Association for Civilian…Oversight of Law Enforcement Professors like Sam Walker in Nebraska, to find out what things were actually best practices.
00:07:46 So let’s start at the top. One of the first things that we mentioned was the bar on anonymous complaints. While that may have been a standard many many years ago, the trend is now to accept anonymous complaints if you look to the consent decree in Cincinnati or consent decree in New Orleans, these things are now being dealt with in a way that allows for anonymous complaints, because we know, we can look at the dataset and figure out those that are actually specious complaints…
Ken: Can I just interrupt for a second?
Maurice C: Sure.
Ken: Explain this to me. How does the FOP contract impinge on anonymous complaints? Is it from citizens?
Maurice C: Yes. It was citizens and for officers. It bars anonymous complaints.
Victor D: Requires an affidavit, which is a legal document.
Maurice C: Well there’s two steps, one is that there’s a bar on anonymous complaints, and then there’s also once a complaint is filed then there has to be an affidavit, or if there’s not a signed affidavit under penalty of perjury there’s an override process. But the problem with the override process, which is what FOP often argues, well here’s the latch to get out. IPRA can then go find other pieces of evidences is that the challenge of developing more evidence to prove it without an affidavit is pretty large, and as a sort of standard or behavioral switch, IPRA has a hard time actually instituting or having enough investigators to be able to go out and prove some of these cases without the affidavit. So what essentially it does is it puts a chilling effect on the number of complaints that you can find and be able to analyze and use your data sources to be able to figure out why malfeasant behavior is going on.
So both anonymous complaints and affidavits are two major recommendations coming out of our task force report. A third would be…
Ken: Allow anonymous complaints and what about the affidavits?
Maurice C: Eliminate the affidavit.
Ken: Eliminate them completely, okay.
Maurice C: Right. Yeah. Another example is the ability for an officer to change a statement after they’ve seen a piece of video evidence. So in other words, an officer can make a statement and then once they are provided the video evidence they can amend the statement without being charged with making a false statement because they now have a piece of evidence they’ve seen. Well, I was a criminal prosecutor for almost a decade. The idea that you should be able to change your statement is just crazy. You should be held accountable for what you said, so we believe that rule should actually be changed.
Victor D: And that’s the same thing that applies to citizens. I mean if you as a citizen made an official statement in an investigation and then you turn around a day later…
Ken: Oh I’ve seen some evidence to the contrary. I would like to change my statement your honor, yeah.
Victor D: In many cases what you’re asking for is the same kind of due process for police that everyone else has. I mean there’s so many ways in which they can kind of have extra steps of due process and some of those are in the collective bargaining agreement. Another one is the ability for them to wait an extended period of time before actually having to make a statement instead of… So if you’re trying to investigate police misconduct you want to do that investigation onsite, want to get the statements, but they in their contract have the ability to wait I think it’s 24 hours.
Maurice C: In shooting cases.
Victor D: Right. In shooting cases before they have to actually make a statement. So some of those kind of things gives time for individuals to kind of get together and get the story together and make sure that it aligns with the videotape and all of that.
Ken: Whether or not it even happens it opens the door and allows that behavior, so you don’t even have to accuse anybody of having done it. It clearly opens that possibility that you can get the whole group together over a beer and say well here’s what we’re going to say.
Maurice C: I would like to make two points here. The first is, and this is in response to something that FOP has recently said about that rule, they said well there are lots of jurisdictions that put a ban of up to 48 hours or 72 hours. All we’re saying is with this rule it should be changed to match with L.A. consent decree, which is there is clearly trauma when an individual is involved in a shooting, and so to be able to have some time to be able to take a break, process exactly what was going on in your own head and your own experience is a physical experience beyond just mental. But what we should require is those officers be separated from everyone else, and then whenever they come back to give their statement they will have to give a recitation of the individuals that they spoke to, which is just a way of tracking the evidence.
But the second more fundamental piece I think here is something that Victor had mentioned, which is providing due process standards that are the same as for other citizens. Everything that we tried to recommend was a way of building legitimacy for the Police Department, having legitimacy in the community. What we know from academia, from psychological evidence is that the #1 reason that people obey the law is because they believe it to be legitimate. And so what we tried to do with our entire task force was rebuild that sense of…or make recommendations to rebuild that sense of legitimacy as a basis to rebuilding trust in the community.
Ken: You say in your report that officers are essentially protected if they lie on their reports. There’s provisions, I don’t really understand this, but an officer who is caught lying there’s still several more layers of procedure before they would be initiated for firing or something.
Victor D: Well, this is what Maurice was speaking about where there’s a provision in the contract that allows an officer to make a statement and then they find out that there’s a video of that event, look at that video and then change the statement so it is more consistent with the video. So in other words you could lie about what happened in an official report that you file and then turn around and change that report after seeing the video. And then there’s no consequence to you making a false statement in the beginning, because the contract allows you do that. You think about any other workplace [chuckles] would you be able to do that.
Ken: Right. Of course the FOP would argue that there is no other workplace like being a police officer out on the street, the level of danger and other things that can happen to you are unlike anything else.
Maurice C: Sure, but then that’s why you match the FOP contract to other contracts around the country and best practices nationally. One of the great challenges of policing…in this country is there are 18,000 departments. 15,000 of them are less than 50 officers, and there’s no real overarching governance structure to those departments. They are all local. So what you have to do is force the department and the city to look nationally for those best practices so that we can create the best department in the city, department that the city deservers.
Ken: Now is it my understanding that some of these changes that you’re talking about actually are enshrined in state law and would require an act of the state legislature?
Maurice C: There’s some arguments that the affidavit requirement does have some lineage in state law, but there’s also some clauses within those state laws that indicate that they can’t conflict with collective bargaining agreements. So this is a matter I think for the labor lawyers to reach out, but we clearly talked to state legislators. We had a state legislator Kwame Raoul was actually serving on my sub-group, our working group on oversights. It’s something that we’ve been considering and talking with legislators about.
Ken: An interesting aspect of this is the role of the city council because in its wisdom the city council reviewed the FOP contract and just voted unanimously for it. As I understand the last contract was 100% I think in the city council. So now we see aldermen standing up after having read your report and saying, “This is not right. We’ve got to change this. We’ve got to change the contract.” But of course they had their opportunity and they didn’t take their opportunity. So I guess that really kind of raises the question which I think you’ve raised in your report about the role the public can and should play during those sensitive weeks when the contract is being negotiated. Shouldn’t there be an opportunity for the public to comment on the FOP contract for example or to participate in some way in it?
Victor D: You know, what was surprising to me when we had our community forums, the four forums that were done was how well-versed people were with what was going on and what the kind of impediments were to accountability, particularly some of the community organizations that were well aware of various provisions of the FOP contract. The average citizen, I don’t know that they would be down in the weeds with the contract, but we do expect that our city council who has to approve those things would be paying close attention to those provisions.
Ken: And then at the very least the meeting at which the decision about the contract is made should be an open meeting that’s open to whatever we call the public, even if it’s activists and so forth, right?
Victor D: I would think it probably even goes back another step in terms of just philosophically what kind of contract negotiation is this. Should we be negotiating away fundamental rights that the citizens should have to transparency and accountability. And so it’s not like where you’re just bartering for more time off and more pay and changes in insurance and all that. We’re talking about the rights and the protections of the citizens, and some of those things just shouldn’t be negotiable that way. We shouldn’t be trading those kind of things and hopefully that’s the approach that will be taken when these contracts renew.
Ken: I would have to observe that I think that some of this probably is blow-back from Laquan McDonald, that a lot of people are learning things that they really didn’t understand were true even a year ago. But one of those is this thing about the city being required to destroy misconduct files. I wonder if you could talk about that too. I mean that just seems like a no-brainer to me.
Maurice C: Well, and to be clear the city hasn’t been following this.
Ken: Have not done it.
Maurice C: Has not done it for decades. It’s a provision that seems to be in direct conflict with state law and the state law indicates that there has to be a request for discipline records to be destroyed and then we have to demonstrate a public interest related to that destruction. And so it’s just a provision that’s antiquated. It doesn’t belong in the contract and it should be stricken.
Ken: But it’s in the contract, right. And to be clear, help me here, but my understanding of it is that after a certain period of time misconduct records are expunged or just thrown away and you can’t use them if an officer is…
Maurice C: They’re capped. They’re physically capped, so those records of complaints and discipline records, but it’s not used in considering future…when somebody commits another act, another complaint and then they consider that in terms of what the discipline is. We’re looking at sort of patterns and practices. One of the big focuses of our report was we should have more data, all of the city, all of the citizens and police themselves to be able to understand, to look at all the different pieces of the puzzle and be able to look for those patterns and practices. Take someone like Jason Van Dyke who had somewhere around 19 or 20 complaints that we know of because there is two years of missing data at the Invisible Institute. You know what could we have learned early in those complaints to help provide further training, further information so that the officer could actually begin to sort of deal with maybe some of the trauma that’s going on?
00:20:11 One of the fundamental challenges of policing is you are faced day in and day out with some of the most difficult situations that any citizen is faced with.
Maurice C: That those individuals wouldn’t experience trauma, that they wouldn’t have to deal with very difficult situations and take that home and try and process that. It’s kind of crazy. So we tried to create a system or recommend a system where we have more data sources so that those officers who are experiencing trauma can be identified and then be given the help to be able to process that drama.
Ken: It just seems absolutely reasonable to me that if you as we all know and Safer Foundation certainly knows more about this than anybody, but if you become a felon that follows you around for the rest of your life. You don’t ever get out from underneath that. And if you’re a police officer and you’ve been accused and found guilty of some kind of misconduct then it’s really important to me as a citizen to know that that record is kept, because if there is a pattern you need to know that pattern. Not just to punish them as you pointed out, but also to give them help.
Victor D: Right. You know some of the things that we found in situations where officers may be transferred from one district to another oftentimes there’s no record of that person’s performance that goes with them in situations sometimes where officers might be promoted into supervisory positions. I mean there needs to be some sort of look-back at their record. So there are either very meaningful and important uses for that information. We’ve had many cases in our city where people have been wrongfully convicted, and some of that has to do with some actions of the police, so how can you really deal with those situations if the records have been destroyed? So there are many many reasons you know.
Ken: And I think this kind of lands us at the front door of another major issue that you’ve brought up which is the whole issue of training. I love this line – “after an officer leaves the academy, which is when they are a very young and brand new green officer, after an officer leaves the academy he can serve his entire career without ever receiving any annual mandatory training of any kind. An astounding fact particularly in light of the recent sea-changes in policing strategies and technology, what limited post academy training happens is primarily delivered through roll-call videos. Roll-call was derisively described by one officer as daycare, because officers slept, checked their smartphones, otherwise paid little attention to what was happening.”
Maurice C: I think this gets back to a fundamental misunderstanding I think that’s been kind of expressed in the press, which is that we didn’t make a lot of recommendations that were meant to benefit officers, and this is a core one, right.
00:23:00 We have a series of recommendations about helping officers with their craft, right. I’m a lawyer by training. Every year I have to demonstrate that I’ve taken a certain amount of continuing education courses to keep up my craft, and that’s also what we want to be doing for officers. I mean officers themselves are being failed by the system. They are not being provided the tools that they need to succeed. I would actually argue that the majority of our report are recommendations that are meant to help officers do their job better.
Victor D: I would agree. There’s a long list of things in terms of training, in terms of insuring they have the proper equipment, insuring that internally the way promotions are handled are fair. Some officers have said to us different task force members privately that they like a lot of things. Even some of the FOP folks have said there’s actually some things that would be very beneficial to the police force in this report. And that gets kind of overlooked. I mean the initial press reports were it’s slamming the police and all of that, but there are a lot of things that are very beneficial.
Ken: Well I’ve got to tell you that was my very strong reaction reading through the report is that you, that it seems very fair-handed to me. For example, in this case taser training being done out in the hall because there just isn’t any place else to do it, right, because the training facility is so antiquated and so ridiculously behind the times that it’s just not capable of doing what needs to be done and that’s disinvestment. It’s just like everything else we talk about on this show, years, decades of disinvestment. The Police Department has been disinvested just like everybody else.
Victor D: Just like the community, yeah.
Ken: And it’s time to… I mean it might sound a little counterintuitive for a report that appears to be slamming the police, but I think you’re also calling for investing some money in these people.
Victor D: Absolutely. I mean there needs to be more investment in the investigation of police conduct, the systems that are used in terms of the data-capturing and communicating data, tracking, reporting, all those systems need investment, training investment. You know there’s a lot that’s needed and unfortunately we’re spending, you know, $640-million on settling cases, and all of that kind of money, if we would start investing some of that money in the things that the police need to do their job more effectively, to learn how to de-escalate situations, you know, to have the right kind of tools that they use, less lethal force kind of tools that they can use, all those things would eliminate the need for a lot of that settlement. So it’s really a matter of re-investing the money into areas that’s going to make the Police Department more effective and build a better relationship with the community as well.
Ken: Did you guys – I didn’t see this in the report, did you guys tackle this issue of this massive load of overtime and what kind of an effect that has on the police? Because it just seems to me and again intuitively I have nothing to back this up, but I’ve been in high stress jobs before and I know what it’s like and if you’re suddenly put in a position where you’re pulling double shifts all the time, at about the 14th hour you’re going to be a little fuzzy. I don’t care how well trained or how bright you are. It’s got nothing to do with it; it’s just human nature.
Maurice C: So we talked a little bit about secondary jobs and secondary employment, but we didn’t talk a lot about overtime.
Victor D: But to your point you know, the Safer Foundation we operate two community correction centers. These are minimum security prison facilities. We have about 580 inmates, so we have security staff, guards. And we went through a period where we were really down on the number of guards and we were having to do mandatory overtime and all of that, having people work double shifts and things like that. It does burn them out. Right now the Police Department is understaffed from their previous levels, and that is an issue. So again you know we identified for example that there needs to be more sergeants, more supervisors. And so these are the kind of things, the investments that are needed that will help the officers be more effective that will bring down that stress level.
One of the things we addressed was many times because of the collective bargaining agreement seniority determines where an officer is placed. So we have a situation where young recruits who have the least amount of experience, maybe have the least familiarity with the communities that they are going into, they don’t have as much training, they end up by default getting thrown into the worst situations.
Ken: The toughest jobs.
Victor D: The toughest jobs, the worst districts, the worst shift, the most violent, young people who need the most judgment who probably are the least equipped.
Ken: Who could use a little experience under the belt.
Victor D: Right. So we’ve said hey, you need to partner those people with someone that has experience and not throw these young people into these very difficult situations.
Maurice C: So one of the concerns that we had was about secondary employment, and the nature of other jobs that officers have. Most other employees across the City of Chicago have to get permission for their secondary jobs and they consider what actually those jobs are. CPD officers there isn’t this policy that requires them to report exactly what the job is and getting permission for it. And we think there are certain times where some of those jobs may be more challenging and taking more energy away from certain officers and getting to this point about burnout. There may be certain situations where it’s just not appropriate to have a certain type of secondary job or secondary employment because it could lead to increased burnout.
Ken: And what can you do about that?
Maurice C: So we made a recommendation that the policy should be changed and they should be able to get permission and they need to disclose the nature of that secondary employment.
Ken: Able to get permission or required?
Maurice C: They are required to get…
Ken: Required to get permission. So that’s a surprise to me. So they don’t have to at this time? They don’t have to report that they are doing other things?
Maurice C: There are things that they are supposed to be barred from doing, but there isn’t an active requirement to get that approval from a supervisor or get it from HR.
Ken: Wow. I find that kind of shocking, I’ve got to tell you, because I mean yeah, I could imagine a number of things that a police officer could be doing that would be in direct conflict with his role as a police officer.
00:29:59 Not only the burnout thing, but conflict and all sorts of issues. Huh, wow. Well should be talk about IPRA?
Maurice C: Sure.
Ken: Let’s talk about IPRA. You have recommended have your due consideration that IPRA just isn’t worth saving. That it needs to be thrown out and something new needs to replace it, right?
Maurice C: Right. One of Victor’s points previously, we did four forums across the study. We also asked for the public to submit feedback on our website as well as in writing, and what we found I think across the board was a widespread belief that IPRA was broken, that it was illegitimate, that it didn’t necessarily have any sense of accountability for the cases that are processed. Now we do believe that Sharon, at least I personally believe that And so we made a series of recommendations that we think the department still needs to implement regardless of what happens to it, but then we also believe that it should be replaced with what we call CPIA, so Civilian Police Independent Investigative Agency. And the idea here is it gets removed from the IPRA brand. It takes in more national best practices regarding civilian investigations, and it starts to adopt policies that we think will lead to increased transparency, increased accountability, and increased legitimacy.
Ken: So, where does it fall on the organizational chart of the City of Chicago? It’s not just a sort of a sub-department of the Police Department anymore?
Maurice C: No, that’s right, it’s an independent agency, and we actually recommend an alignment with a lot of recent consent decrees and there actually should also be a civilian advisory board to the city about policing in public safety departments, and that board would actually be responsible for helping select the new director of the CPIA.
00:32:04 So the idea of being there that we create even more independence removed from the Mayor in selecting the head of IPRA or the new IPRA which is CPIA.
Ken: Because I get this sort of internal chuckle in my head when I hear independent, because you know the Chicago Park District Board is an independent board. The Chicago Transit Authority, the Housing Authority, they’re all independent boards except that of course they are all appointed by the Mayor and completely subservient to the Mayor in every way except that they are independent. And that seems to be the issue that you are going to have to tackle here.
Maurice C: That’s what we tried to do by creating a new methodology for selecting the new head of the organization.
Victor D: And then we did also attempt to address the various ways in which those new entities could be stood up and the pros and cons of each. Because you know some people really want some sort of elected you know civilian oversight, but there are ways of compromising that process.
Victor D: Ways for organizations to kind of use their money and influence to slate candidates, and before you know it you have what’s supposed to be an independent board that’s not independent.
Ken: That’s the debate we’re having with schools right now with the elected school board. It’s the same thing. It’s like well okay, then pick your favorite enemy, they’re going to take over the board. But the independence issue though is so critical and I don’t how you accomplish it, and at the same time not make it so independent that it becomes irrelevant. That’s something that occurs to me is that if it is something that is so outside of the political process then the political process can just ignore it.
Maurice C: Well, I do think you would still have a very fundamental role in processing cases and taking cases and handing them back to the Police Department because there’s going to be some of the more process-related complaints that would go still to BIA and the districts and the Police Department. So because it has that fundamental role and because there’s still this role of the Citizen Oversight Board and selecting the agency, I think that while you’re right there is a risk there, I think there is still a fundamental relationship that then makes it a part of city government.
Victor D: And I think part of that also is there would need to be certain ordinances passed that would really give these entities the authority.
Ken: They would have to have authority, yeah.
Victor D: If you just set up a board and they don’t have any legal authority to do what they need to do then of course CI could be ignored.
Ken: Of course the police board has a legal authority to send recommendations to the Mayor.
Victor D: And they did. [Laughs]
Ken: And they did, but of course the City Council can vote to just say, “Aah, we didn’t really mean that.”
Victor D: We were not involved in that process. That’s the police board, this is the task force.
Ken: You didn’t make recommendations about that.
Victor D: No, we didn’t.
Ken: That was not on your plate, yeah.
00:35:04 Some of the things that you’re talking about though, I mean I think it just needs to be put on the record here, issues of records being lost, investigations taking years, 40% of complaints never even investigated at IPRA. Now of course leadership can change that and Sharon Fairley may well be able to change some of it, but as you say it’s a brand thing, right?
Maurice C: Well part of the 40%, I want to be clear about a couple of these facts, 40% a lot of that has to do with the affidavit requirement right, and so the ability it’s complex, so they could still investigate those cases and they could override them, but the override just hasn’t been used enough. And so part of that is removing the affidavit requirement then allows it to be a little easier to actually investigate those cases and process them.
Also, IPRA does take in certain situations a long time to investigate cases, but for the most part they are not the one that are responsible, they are not the agency that’s been responsible for the longest delays. In fact, in a lot of ways IPRA over the last couple of years, one of their biggest problems was they were moving cases through too quickly and they weren’t giving it enough time to be investigated. I mean you have examples of only 1% of cases being exonerated, so officers not even given full exoneration when a complaint was false.
The longer, the process that creates more of the delay is command channel review, is the process of arbitration at the back end when the penalty is imposed, so I think IPRA sometimes gets penalized for things or within the public’s mind that it’s not necessarily responsible for, so I do want to be clear about that point.
Ken: Moving on to other things, there are so many other things that I want to cover here and I’m just kind of like getting crazy about time, but it’s really important that we talk about this whole thing about recommendations for mental health services. I mean that’s a huge discussion all of its own.
Victor D: Yes.
Ken: Where do we start?
Victor D: Well, I think that the city as you may have seen in the paper today I think there was mention of the fact that there was a plan to have 30% of the force trained in crisis intervention. That’s very important that as many people as possible have that training, that officers that are responding have the ability to ensure that they get someone at the scene that has the understanding of how to deal with someone who is in crisis that would be very important. Because some of the situations, it seems to be apparent, the Laquan McDonald he was a troubled youth, the shooting where the individual with the bat was shot and the lady was accidentally killed. I mean these are all situations of people in crisis, so that would help tremendously to have more officers out there that know how to deal with those situations.
But there’s also an issue in the community because we’ve shut down a lot of the community health facilities, mental health facilities. There’s just a dearth of support for people, and so the police end up unfortunately dealing with situations that really should have been dealt with in the community by mental health professionals.
Ken: Professionals, yeah.
Victor D: We had a section in the report where we call for the county and city officials to get together and really convene some conversation about how we begin to make the investments in the communities that are needed, that really are at the very heart of some of the problems that the police end up having to deal with. When you have 40% or more of young men, African American men 20 to 24 years old that are not employed or not in school, I mean you know, they end up getting up involved in things. If you can get them busy and active in a productive way, we will cut down a lot of the policing activity.
Maurice C: And this gets back to a point we made earlier about a lot of our recommendations being provided in the spirit of helping officers do their job better, and I think to Victor’s point we have foisted a lot of society’s problems on the police. It’s the police become the front line of government in dealing with all of these mental health…
Ken: Schools and police, we expect schools and police to handle all of our social illnesses.
Maurice C: Right. And so you essentially have a less fulsome force because they’ve been cut in their numbers dealing with more problems with less training and we expect them to act perfectly. So in a lot of ways they should be lauded for…the best officers should be lauded for the work that they are doing under incredible crisis…
Ken: I don’t think we can say that often enough on this program, I believe from reading your report that that spirit in imbued all through it, but it’s just too easy to read it as just being something that just slams the police. It’s all their fault. They screw everything up that they touch.
00:40:13 Again I just have to read something back to you. “Even when officers have crisis intervention training they have limited options to divert those living with mental illness to healthcare providers instead of to jail.” Again, not blaming the police here. “Currently the only diversion option is the emergency room at various hospitals and more often officers take individuals to Cook County Jail.” Which has become as we all know the largest mental health provider in probably the universe. “When officers do transport individuals to designated emergency room drop-offs they often see the same person back on their beat hours or days later, no change in their behavior, and this is a poor use of manpower and resources.”
Maurice C: And I can give you an example of having to deal with the problem over and over again. I had a close relative who was assaulted in the loop by a woman who clearly had a mental health problem. She was speaking in voices and walked up to this individual and punched him right in the face. And when I went with this family member to court to deal with the assault itself the woman had been reincarcerated again and had done it a second time to an individual because they hadn’t been given the mental health treatment that this woman needed. So essentially she was taken to jail, released, did it again, and taken to jail again, and the only answer was to give her more time in jail, which wasn’t going to solve the problem. It wasn’t going to provide help for this person, and ultimately hurt both this woman, my relative, as well as the police because it wasn’t solving the problem.
Victor D: It’s an incredible issue. We have about 8,000 people in Cook County Jail now. This is the front end to the prison system. We have one of the highest incarceration rates in the nation. Here in Illinois we have about 48,000 people in prison. And where other states have found that when they lower that incarceration rate the states that have reduced their incarceration levels have actually reduced crime faster. It’s not what people think, that locking up more people actually makes us safer.
Ken: That’s so 1980s.
Victor D: Yeah, it just doesn’t work that way, so we’ve got to find ways to divert people who really are dealing with issues that don’t really require incarceration. They require treatment. They require assistance, and the money we spend we probably spend more money incarcerating them than we would spend treating them.
Ken: Giving them treatment. Let’s take another hour-long conversation and try to condense it down to about a minute and 40 seconds if we can. Body cameras, you seem to be in full-throated favor of body cameras. Are you seeing evidence that they are helping?
Maurice C: Yeah. So one of the earliest studies I think what’s nationally considered indicates that complaints do drop as well as use of force drops when bodycams are used. Anecdotal evidence in Oakland which has had body cams for the last five years because the Department of Justice’s consent decree there, they’ve seen astronomical drops both in complaint and use of force. Complaints are down 50% over five years and use of force is down 60%, maybe flipping those statistics, but both it’s incredible. And I think part of it what it does is it provides transparency both for officers and for citizens.
Victor D: Right.
Maurice C: I do still think though that they are not a panacea. They don’t solve all problems and so we need more training on procedural justice, to train officers as we know they’re not getting all the training they need, but how to communicate with citizens in a way to build more legitimacy.
Ken: But cameras might actually be an entryway to that, a portal into that to see look, here’s an example of where if these guys had this much training in this and this it might actually advocate for it in a way. I’ve thought for a long time that it’s only going to take two or three sort of reverse Laquan McDonald’s to get the police on board with this, cases where they look really bad for something they did and then you watch the video and you see that they actually got it right. I mean I’m not sure this is a perfect example, but the thing we’re seeing right now with that video that was released of the Cook County Jail guard, I’m not really familiar with it enough to be able to have an opinion about it, but at the very least it’s ambiguous right. It’s not what it appeared to be. And I think that’s going to benefit the police in a way that they might end up really…
Maurice C: Let me give you an example. One of the three cases that were cited, I’m from Seattle originally, and one of the three cases that were cited by a lot of community groups to bring DOJ to Seattle was actually later discovered to be when more video was uncovered, that the officer had actually behaved in the right way, that once you saw more perspectives you realized the situation this individual was in. And so I think there were two other incidents that showed that the police needed some training, however that one incident basically exonerated the officer, and so I think the more that we see that the better we will be at providing information to free up officers from baseless complaints.
Ken: I know there was something that was making the rounds on YouTube a few months ago of an officer in a suicide situation where the guy was trying to suicide by cop. He was pointing the gun at the police officer. The officer said, “I am not going to shoot you. Just put the gun…” and he talked him out of it and you know, that’s something we would have never known about, so anyway.
Victor D: Yeah, absolutely.
00:45:28 911 smart system that seems like another no-brainer. I mean in this technological age we ought to be able to get that done by this afternoon can’t we?
Maurice C: That’s the hope. [Laughs]
Victor D: Yeah. Well, you know, again, I think you picked up on the fact that there are a number of recommendations that really would improve the functioning and operation of the force. There’s so much information that it comes in to the 911 center making sure those people have the ability to determine things like a person that’s dealing with a mental health issue, being able to convey that information to the police dispatch so they know the situation that they’re dealing with. I mean that’s very important I think.
Victor D: And so the fact that we in one meeting it was determined that only one district even knew about the officers that were assigned on those shifts that had crisis intervention training. And the way they knew about it was because they were getting a fax each day. [Laughs]
Ken: Now there’s smart technology. [Laughs]
Victor D: So the one district that had the information was getting it by fax. The other [laughs] districts didn’t have the information at all.
Ken: We shouldn’t be laughing, but yeah, yeah.
Maurice C: No, but it’s another example of how we’re failing the people that are frontline responders, and so it’s taking these things that seem very simple and seem almost farcical but just saying hey, we’ve got to get it done.
Ken: It’s just a line of code of something that pops up on the screen. When the call comes from this individual the dispatcher says, “Oh, I see we’ve had some problems before. Let’s talk this through, and maybe there’s a special kind of police officer we’re going to need to send to you,” or whatever it is.
Victor D: And that should happen fairly automatically where they can say that okay, we need to send this car to this call because these people are trained in crisis intervention, and that should be happening from a systems standpoint.
Ken: So the question that we asked at the beginning of the show is how much of this could possibly be implemented, and we talked a little bit about Mayor Emanuel just yesterday saying he’s going to implement, the numbers are vague, but it appears he is going to immediately order about a third of this to happen. The non-low hanging fruit, the high-hanging fruit is the stuff like IPRA and the stuff like redoing the contract and many many other things. What is your level of optimism? You’ve put a lot of time and work into this report.
Victor D: Well, I would say before I answer that, the one area that I would hope that the Mayor would embrace would be the recommendations around a reconciliation process, around replacing CAPS with a new…
Victor D: A new community engagement and empowerment districts to really begin to build a relationship with the community, because you know, we have a system in our country where we are governed by the consent of the people. We give consent to people to govern us. That’s what America is about, right. And the same thing for the police you know. If there’s no sense that the police are legitimate and the people are not consenting to be governed by them that’s part of the problem. And so we have to move forward with building this relationship with the community with establishing that legitimate relationship, and that’s very important, so I would hope that the Mayor would embrace those things.
00:49:43 What I would say about what is the confidence level, a number of the recommendations were based on national best practices. We looked at consent decrees around the country including some of the most recent ones like Cleveland and we tried to make sure that our recommendations were very consistent with what the Justice Department is likely to force the city to do anyway. So you know from that standpoint yeah, the Justice Department may make it happen. Hopefully the city would do it and not wait for some outside power to tell us we have to do it.
Maurice C: Yeah, and I’m optimistic as well because I think these times are different, right. This is the first time the Department of Justice has been here. This is a national discussion about police forces in the way that police engage with the community. I mean one of the quotes has sort of gotten lost and some of the reporting is one that we put in from Sir Robert Peele indicating that the ability of the police to perform their duties is based upon their ability to maintain public respect. Our appeal for those who don’t know the father of modern policing, and so this is stuff that we’ve known for several hundred years and it’s just time now for us to reconsider how we conceive of our police and how we support our police in our communities. And I think with the help of the Department of Justice and the Mayor taking hold of some of these recommendations and implementing them I’m optimistic that we can get that work done.
Ken: Well, you began the conversation Maurice by talking about damaged brands with IPRA. There’s no more damaged brand than CAPS I would say at this point. I mean the notion of community policing in Chicago seems to have been just pretty much ignored for – well let’s not put a number on it, but for many years at this point. I don’t know, it’s a very very tough thing to do to implement community policing. It’s kind of like saying starting tomorrow we’re going to be legitimate or something. I mean it’s the consent of the governed thing again.
Maurice C: It is but we can track this stuff, right. Like CPD actually doesn’t get enough credit for a project that they tried to implement about six months ago called RespectsStat, where they actually look at the data related to community engagement and what community perception is about the Police Department.
00:52:00 There’s a model that’s been floating around nationally called Comstat 2.0, where you’re not just tracking burglaries and homicides and robberies, you’re tracking numbers of complaints. You’re tracking number of meetings with community members to gauge their concerns. You can track that data. What gets measured gets managed, and if we require the department to start managing that sort of stuff I think you will see new version of CAPS or new options of legitimacy policing that will be provided to the community.
Ken: I say this with some small amount of experience because I did for some period of time work for the city, and in that capacity I went to a few CAPS meetings and beat meetings, and it was amazing to me that you would have people who would stand there and they would say, “Look, for the last six weeks I’ve been coming here and I’m been telling you about that crack house over on 18th and…the specific address, it’s on the second floor, why don’t you guys do anything about it? And I’ve asked you a dozen times and you don’t do anything about it.” And I don’t know what the answer to that is. I’ve always been mystified by that. You would think that if you had community people who were engaged enough that they wanted to give you this information and you appeared not to be acting on it, now whether they were or not I can’t say, but that’s the kind of…that’s how the fabric gets torn apart. It’s like well, you make me come here and talk to you and then you appear not to care about what I say. I don’t know how you fix that.
Victor D: Well, you know in the reconciliation process that we recommended there’s some fundamental things that would happen. We have a new police superintendent that has a reputation for being connected with the community, but we’re hoping he would embrace some of those recommendations because there is a certain structure and a methodology that we’ve recommended that involves first of all getting to know each other and realizing that we don’t really understand each other. The community doesn’t understand the police; the police don’t understand the community.
Victor D: Because of that we are doing each other harm and that’s the truth.
Ken: We’re doing harm to each other.
Victor D: To each other, and we don’t support the police. That harms them, and then the third thing is that basically we both want really fundamentally the same thing. I mean we want to be safe in our neighborhoods. The police want to be safe when they’re doing their job. They want to go home to their families. We really want the same thing; so how do we get on the same page? We’ve got to reignite the philosophy of community policing and bring in things like asset-based community development, procedural justice, restorative justice, looking at how we work with the youth. There’s all kinds of programs that are in small places around the city that need to be expanded and done all across the city that would really help make this work.
We used to be known all over the country for CAPS. You know we were the leader in community policing at one point, but it’s a leadership thing. When new leadership comes in and they don’t want to invest in it and they turn it into a program instead of a…philosophy, that’s what happens.
Ken: Because it has to be injected into every single level and every single aspect of the department. It just can’t be this separate little program that exists out here.
Maurice C: And a tactic. It’s a mentality.
Ken: That’s right, that’s right. So in conclusion you’re not political animals and I wouldn’t want to put you in the position of having to be political pundits, but can Mayor Emanuel pull this off?
Maurice C: Yes. I think that this is a roadmap. What we’ve tried to do is layout step by step the things that you can do to rebuilt the trust. And I think what we’ve tried to do if people fully read the report is understand each of these perspectives that Victor has talked about, that the community isn’t understanding the police, the police are not understanding the community and provide that roadmap. So I think this is an opportunity for him to take hold of the narrative and drive home a successful model and reform the department before DOJ implements a potential consent decree. We not only would be saving our community, we would be building a stronger police force and we would be saving ourselves a heck of a lot of money.
Victor D: Yeah. I would say I think that the Mayor can do it. I think the climate is such that you know everyone understands the importance and the critical nature and the whole Laquan McDonald thing was kind of in a way the tipping point and we talk about that, so it gives him a perfect reason. A lot of the press has been pretty positive about the report all over the country. We’ve said things that some people say you shouldn’t say that. Well it’s been said. It’s out there.
Ken: Said at your forums many times.
Victor D: And so it’s out there, so there’s the great opportunity I think, and this would be my appeal, here’s an opportunity to say to the people of Chicago we’re not going to do this because of the Department of Justice. We’re going to do it because this is our community. We are all Chicagoans. We’re in this together, you know, we’re neighbors, we’re coworkers, we’re friends, we’re family. This is our city and we now have an opportunity to make it much much better. Let’s do it because we care for the people of Chicago, not because some Department of Justice is breathing down our neck. Let’s do it for our citizens.
Ken: My sense of this for some time has been that Mayor Emanuel is a very politically damaged individual and that those are some of the most valuable people to have on your side because they really want to fix things. They really want to… He’s concerned about legacy I’m sure, and he has an opportunity here to make massive and systemic change if he really wants to do it, and I don’t have a sense of whether he does or not. But I certainly can image that if I were in his position I’d say, “Screw this. I’m going in. I’m jumping in with both feet and I want to do this. I want to make this happen.”
Anyway, thank you so much for spending all this time with us today. And thank you on behalf of Chicago for all the work you did. It was a pretty remarkable report, even though as you pointed out it was only the sixth of those starting with what was it – 1880 or something? Some police scandal and they set up a blue ribbon commission to figure it out. Anyway, thank you very much Victor Dickson, CEO of the Safer Foundation. Thank you very much Maurice Classen from the MacArthur Foundation, both of you for being here today.
00:59:04 We close with this, from your report. “we arrived at this point in part because of racism the report says. We arrived at this point because of a mentality in CPD that the ends justify the means. We arrived at this point because of a failure to make accountability a core value and imperative within CPD. And, we arrived at this point because of a significant underinvestment in human capital, and really everything comes back to that.”