Daywatch: U. of C. study examines police misconduct

Good morning, Chicago.

Police officers with histories of on-the-job misconduct are also likelier to have reported instances of bad behavior while off-duty, according to a new study published today through the University of Chicago Crime Lab.

The study, which examined 10 years of Chicago Police Department data as part of implementing the federal consent decree, found that police misconduct was predictable based on an officer’s history of complaints. It suggested that a relatively simple system of tracking past complaints to prevent future incidents could have a public value of “infinity,” considering the potential to avoid costly lawsuits that result from high-profile incidents of officer misconduct.

Payments to settle lawsuits stemming from allegations of police misconduct routinely cost Chicago taxpayers millions of dollars annually. The City Council in March approved payments totaling more than $57 million to settle three such cases. Between 2021 and 2023, settlement payments totaled more than $220 million.

Historically, CPD officers who work in “Tier 1” districts — those of the CPD’s 22 patrol districts that see the highest levels of violence and other serious felony offenses — are the subjects of more civilian misconduct complaints, especially officers who work in specialized, plainclothes units, though uniformed patrol officers are also the frequent subjects of complaints.

The newly released study also showed that while the officers at highest risk of misconduct make up a small percentage of the force overall, members of that group were at “greatly elevated risk” for on- and off-duty reports of bad behavior.

Read the full story from the Tribune’s Caroline Kubzansky.

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