OIG Follow-Up Inquiry Finds CPD’s School Resource Officer Program Has Not Fully Implemented Recommendations nor Included Community Stakeholders

The Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) Public Safety Section has issued a follow-up of the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) management of School Resource Officers (SRO) assigned to Chicago Public Schools (CPS). Based on the Department’s responses, OIG concludes that CPD has fully implemented one recommendation and four recommendations still remain pending.

Our 2018 review determined that CPD’s recruitment, selection, placement, training, specification of roles and responsibilities, and evaluations of its SROs were not sufficient to ensure that officers working in schools could successfully execute their specialized duties. While CPD agreed with many of the recommendations, the Department indicated that proposed changes would be implemented as part of the consent decree and therefore would not take effect before the start of the 2019-2020 school year. While CPD has ensured that the roster of officers assigned to schools is regularly updated, it has not adopted OIG’s recommendation for an SRO program coordinator. In addition, several crucial recommendations remain: CPD is still working towards the implementation of an MOU; has not defined the data and information to be shared between CPD and CPS; and has not established SRO policies, procedures, or hiring guidelines. Most crucially, CPD has not included a broad range of community stakeholders in the aforementioned recommendations.

“CPD has failed to undertake action with the immediacy called for by OIG or consonant with the deep community consternation over the method, manner, means and, in some quarters, very existence of the program,” said Inspector General Joe Ferguson. “This urgent issue should have been tackled within months, rather than put off for an entire school year. Our recommendations, reflective of well-established, off-the-shelf national best practices, stress the urgency of community input to protect and assure school safety; such reforms can only be made with the involvement of students, teachers, parents, and community stakeholders. CPD’s adherence to this critical component has been tenuous at best. Another year has passed, and a lack of assurances or consistent engagement has left the community feeling unheard, with good reason. Additionally, the flagrant disregard of the Municipal Code in the failure to hold a long-overdue public hearing in the City Council Committee on Public Safety, triggered by our initial report, has served only to erode the fragile public confidence and sense of legitimacy in the larger police reform enterprise. The City Council passed reform legislation that includes a mechanism under the law for hearings to receive and reflect constituents’ public safety concerns. The last session passed without such a hearing being called. In the meantime, proposed legislation for a community advisory board through which community insight and input can be heard, received, and represented remains in process over a year after introduction. Meanwhile, CPD has used the consent decree—which is meant as a floor, not a ceiling—as a shield from timely action on a readily achievable and transparently devised reform of the SRO program. Community concerns about SRO interactions with students and the paths these interactions carve out at a young age, including the potential for becoming unnecessarily involved in the criminal justice system, is an issue we can no longer put off or manage in the shadows.”

The full report can be found on OIG’s website.  

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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.