Recommendations to Inform and Improve Disciplinary Investigations Conducted by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability

Pursuant to the Municipal Code of Chicago § 2-56-230(c), the Public Safety section of the City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) conducts, on an ongoing basis, reviews of individual closed disciplinary investigations conducted by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) and the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) Bureau of Internal Affairs (BIA). OIG is charged with the duty to make recommendations based on those reviews to inform and improve future disciplinary investigations, and to ensure that they are complete, thorough, objective, and fair.

COPA is charged with investigating, documenting, and reviewing allegations of misconduct by CPD members. It investigates allegations including, but not limited to, bias-based verbal abuse, domestic violence, excessive force, improper search and seizure, and firearm discharge. To foster trust and confidence in Chicago’s police accountability system, and COPA specifically, it is imperative that COPA’s investigative records are thorough and well-documented in order to ensure transparency and consistency. To that end, OIG has recommended that COPA undertake the following:

  • properly document the origin of a complaint
  • maintain detailed investigative logs
  • exercise caution and discretion when documenting allegations
  • include credibility assessments in investigative files
  • ensure meaningful supervisory review of completed investigations and properly document a supervisor’s decision to refer an investigation back for further work

In response to OIG’s recommendations, COPA committed to the following process and policy enhancements:

  • examining the modification of its Summary Report of Investigation (SRI) to ensure uniformity and completeness
  • creating and revising policies and training
  • continuing to build out a new case management system (CMS)
  • continuing to provide training to staff