OIG Public Safety Section Finds Obstacles to CPD’s Ability to Effectively Administer the Disciplinary Grievance Process

The Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) Public Safety Section has issued a management alert regarding the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) disciplinary grievance process for sworn personnel. OIG identified four areas of concern that present significant obstacles to CPD’s ability to effectively administer the process, consistently represent the Department’s interest in grievance proceedings, and maintain the confidentiality of sensitive information.

Disciplinary grievances challenge punishments sworn members receive as a result of findings of misconduct. CPD members who believe their rights—as enumerated in their collective bargaining agreements—have been violated by departmental action may grieve that action. Officers submit their grievance forms to the Management and Labor Affairs Section (MLAS) of CPD, which is responsible for processing both disciplinary and non-disciplinary grievances and other departmental activities related to the various labor agreements impacting CPD personnel. OIG found that:

  • CPD has no formal policies and procedures for processing sworn member grievances and no agency-issued guidelines for coordination with the Department of Law in the resolution of grievances through negotiated settlements.
  • MLAS does not have a dedicated electronic case management system for tracking grievances and currently lacks a standardized and reliable way to identify and obtain precedential arbitration decisions and comparable cases.
  • MLAS is understaffed and there is currently a vacant lieutenant position.
  • The MLAS workspace is not conducive to maintaining privacy and confidentiality.

In response, CPD acknowledged that it would review personnel and staffing levels, address the need for an electronic case management system with a short-term solution (a new case management system will be completed by 2020 under the consent decree), and expedite a review of the MLAS workspace to address confidentiality concerns. However, CPD disagreed with OIG’s finding that CPD lacks formal policies and procedures for how MLAS processes sworn member grievances. OIG stands by its finding and strongly encourages CPD to finalize and implement formal guidelines. CPD also did not directly address OIG’s concern regarding a lack of guidelines for coordinating negotiated settlements with the Department of Law.

“Confidence in the fairness and legitimacy of the disciplinary grievance process, for both the public and affected rank and file police officers, hinges in part on clearly defined formal policies and the Department’s commitment of resources consistent with the complexity and importance of the system. We therefore urge CPD to fully implement all of our recommendations,” said Joseph Lipari, Deputy Inspector General for Public Safety.

The full management alert can be found online.

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The mission of the independent and non-partisan City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) is to promote economy, effectiveness, efficiency, and integrity by identifying corruption, waste, and mismanagement in City government. OIG is a watchdog for the taxpayers of the City and has jurisdiction to conduct investigations and audits into most aspects of City government. If you see corruption, fraud, or waste of any kind, we need to hear from you. For more information, visit our website at: www.igchicago.org.