Inspector general finds CPD disciplinary process inconsistent, unfair

A report released by the Office of Inspector General on Thursday found that the agencies that review Chicago police misconduct cases cannot ensure procedural fairness and consistency.

The agencies that investigate misconduct allegations are CPD’s bureau of internal affairs or the Civilian Office of Police Accountability. If either agency finds that a CPD member committed misconduct, then the agency recommends a disciplinary penalty.

That recommendation then goes through a review process. The Police Board may also review the recommendation depending on the rank of the CPD member and nature of the discipline.

The inspector general found that neither agency’s policies contain clear and actionable guidance on how their investigators should weigh aggravating and mitigating factors when deciding disciplinary recommendations, according to the report.

The Police Board also does not have any formal policies to consistently and fairly determine discipline, the report said.

“BIA and COPA’s policies do not provide sufficient guidance on how, when, and in what measure those agencies should consider aggravating and mitigating factors in reaching disciplinary recommendations, risking approaches that vary widely across investigations and may therefore be inconsistent and unfair. COPA’s policies, specifically, contain internally contradictory and outdated language,” according to the report. “The Police Board does not have any formal policies in place at all to ensure that its determinations of final discipline are made consistently and fairly across all cases it considers.”

The inspector general recommended that COPA and internal affairs should revise its policies to require that personnel developing disciplinary recommendations must document that they have considered whether any mitigating and aggravating factors are relevant to the determination of recommended discipline, according to the report.

It also recommended that representatives from both agencies and the Police Board should solicit feedback from each other and CPD unions to come up with a standardized list of aggravating and mitigating factors, and the list should be made publicly available, the report said.

In response to the recommendations, CPD reported that it is revising a number of its relevant orders and trainings for those who work in internal affairs, the report said. COPA agreed with the inspector general’s recommendations and indicated that it’s also revising relevant policies and guidance materials.

The Police Board disagreed with the recommendation that it should consult with CPD and COPA, the report said. The board pointed to its views of the importance of independence from the agencies.

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