With police, Emanuel already knows what to fix and how

Photo: Chicago Police Department

The administration of Mayor Rahm Emanuel already has in-depth recommendations about how to reform policing in Chicago.

The city has reportedly followed little, if any, of the advice.

Several years ago, the Emanuel administration asked two prominent businesses—a law firm and a management consulting company—to assess police misbehavior and suggest fixes.

The result, a report titled "Preventing and Disciplining Police Misconduct," was received by the city in December 2014. Among its findings and recommendations:

  • The city's contract with the police officers' union lets wrongdoers "significantly delay or prevent implementation of punishment." In 2012, for example, "the average case took 1,029 days, or almost three years, to reach a final disposition."
  • The three police oversight agencies—the Independent Police Review Authority, the Bureau of Internal Affairs (BIA), and the Police Board—should get no longer than 18 months to look into cases.
  • The police department can cut BIA's case load by handing off some internal probes to neighborhood police districts.
  • When officers do wrong, the department should hold supervisors (such as beat sergeants) responsible.
  • The city should fire any police officer engaging in a "code of silence"—and union contracts should be crafted to allow for such dismissals.
  • The mayor-appointed Police Board "should not be an avenue of appeal for officers to contest discipline that does not involve" their dismissal, as it currently is.

The study's authors—Ron Safer of law firm Schiff Harden and James O'Keefe of A.T. Kearney—say in the report that they "interviewed a wide cross section of people who participate in and/or are affected by the police disciplinary system," including current and retired officers, department brass, investigators, and community members.

The study appears to have already done the work of Emanuel's recently-formed Task Force on Police Accountability.

When asked about the apparent duplication of effort, the mayor's office told DNAinfo that "it has become clear that there is more work to be done, and the Mayor looks forward to the recommendations of the Task Force."

Document: "Preventing and Disciplining Police Misconduct" (Safer and O'Keefe, December 2014)