OIG Public Safety Section Issues Recommendations to Inform and Improve the Chicago Police Department’s Internal Affairs Investigations

The Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) Public Safety Section has issued a report regarding investigations conducted by the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) Bureau of Internal Affairs (BIA). The Public Safety Section regularly conducts reviews of individual closed disciplinary investigations conducted by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) and BIA. In the process of recent reviews, OIG identified five recommendations to inform and improve future BIA investigations:

  • CPD members assigned to investigate complaints should ensure that case files include an Initiation Report where appropriate, and otherwise consider explaining the origin of a complaint, to provide improved context for judging misconduct and determining outcomes.
  • Investigators should periodically document specific information on the status of any criminal proceedings that are related to disciplinary investigations, rather than simply documenting the fact that the criminal proceedings remain pending, to better explain delays in the administrative investigation.
  • BIA should avoid assigning an investigation to an investigator who is on a lengthy leave of absence or furlough, and should reassign cases in such situations, as appropriate, to protect and promote timeliness.
  • If a supervisor reviewing an investigation decides to return it to the assigned investigator for further work, the reason for doing so should be documented in detail to create a more complete case record and prevent duplicative issues from being raised at multiple review points.
  • BIA investigators should make all appropriate efforts to contact individuals making complaints of police misconduct and ensure that they document all attempts at contact as required by CPD directives, to ensure that complaints are appropriately received and investigated.

In response, CPD affirmed its commitment to “ensuring that all disciplinary investigations conducted by BIA investigators and district supervisors are both thorough and fair.” While CPD affirmed that it is BIA’s practice to document the source of a civilian complaint if it is received without an Initiation Report, it did not address investigations which originate from a source other than a civilian complaint, for which there may be no information in the file regarding its origin. In keeping with its recommendation, OIG encourages CPD to ensure that the origins of all complaints are clearly documented, either by way of a report or by explanation in the investigator’s final summary. With respect to OIG’s remaining four recommendations, CPD noted that its new case management system (CMS) would provide additional opportunities for assuring compliance and quality.

“We encourage CPD to implement its new CMS as soon as possible,” said Deputy Inspector General for Public Safety Joseph Lipari. “We look forward to reviewing the impact on BIA’s operations and the quality of their investigations following implementation.”

The full report can be found online: bit.ly/CPDInternalAffairs

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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.