ACLU Report: Chicago Police Use Excessive Stop-and-Frisk on People of Color

By Emily Gray Brosious | Originally Published at Gapers Block | Mar. 25, 2015

Chicago Police / Photo by Emily Gray Brosious
Chicago Police / Photo by Emily Gray Brosious

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois released findings in a report Monday that show stop-and-frisks by Chicago police disproportionately target people of color — and justification for these stops frequently fails to meet constitutional standards.

The ACLU also found Chicago far surpasses New York City as the nation’s leader in the use of controversial stop-and-frisk procedures.

Data shows that in 2014 Chicagoans were stopped more than four times as often when compared with New Yorker’s at the height of NYPD’s stop-and-frisk in 2011.

During the summer of 2014 alone, police conducted more than 250,000 stops on civilians that did not lead to arrest. These stop-and-frisks happened most frequently in districts with the largest concentrations of minority residents.

African Americans represented nearly 72 percent of all stops in Chicago, even though they account for just around 32 percent of the city’s total population, according to ACLU findings.

“Chicago has failed to train, supervise and monitor law enforcement in minority communities for decades, resulting in a failure to ensure that officers’ use of stop and frisk is lawful,” the report says.

The ACLU says Chicago’s poor record keeping around stop-and-frisks is another a key problem for transparency and general accountability on the issue.

For example, the city only collects information about stops that do not result in arrest, so there’s no way to assess the full rate of innocent people being stopped.

The report concludes overuse of stop-and-frisk not only of violates constitutional rights, but also has the effect of alienating large segments of the population and depressing community-policing involvement.

The ACLU recommends Chicago police increase mandated officer training in this area and require that police issue receipts for all pedestrian stops to document the officer’s name and the time, place and reason for the encounter. This would allow citizens to file conduct complaints when they feel they are unlawfully stopped.

The group also wants the Chicago Police Department to collect more comprehensive data on all stop-and-frisks in the city and make that data accessible to the public.

Chicago police officials responded to ACLU accusations Monday, saying the department prohibits racial profiling and biased policing tactics. They claim that over the past three years, CPD has actually improved officer training, added more supervision and increased officer compliance with required documentation and incident reports.

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