The Office of Inspector General’s Public Safety Section 2021 Annual Report

The City of Chicago Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) Public Safety section has published its 2021 Annual Report, which summarizes the section’s activity throughout last year and includes new analysis of 2021 data. The Public Safety section, enabled by the Municipal Code of Chicago, provides focus and dedicated resources to the oversight of the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and Chicago’s police accountability agencies. The section’s inquiries are focused on the policies, practices, programs, procedures, and training of CPD, the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA), and the Police Board, with respect to constitutional policing, discipline, use of force, and CPD’s integrity, transparency, and relationship with City residents. Additionally, the Public Safety section is charged with oversight of the police disciplinary system, investigations, and hearings, including examining the fairness and consistency of discipline and whether individual misconduct investigations are complete, thorough, objective, and fair.

In 2021, the Public Safety section published 12 reports on topics which included:

  • Background checks on members of the public
  • Chicago’s response to protests and unrest following the killing of George Floyd
  • CPD’s use of ShotSpotter technology
  • Demographic impacts of CPD’s hiring process
  • Disciplinary grievance procedures for CPD members
  • Follow-ups on CPD’s “Gang Database,” random reviews of body-worn camera recordings, and CPD’s management and production of records
  • Guides on the disciplinary process for CPD members and understanding CPD’s budget
  • Interim reports on search warrants executed by CPD
  • Investigations of sexual misconduct allegations against CPD members

In 2021, the Public Safety section screened 1,143 disciplinary investigations conducted by CPD’s Bureau of Internal Affairs and COPA and performed trend analysis. Where OIG found deficiencies in those investigations materially effecting their outcome, OIG recommended that the investigations be reopened. Material deficiencies which provided the basis for those recommendations to reopen included failures to: 

  • account for all evidence and all possible rule violations
  • accurately report disciplinary histories
  • address discrepancies between the evidentiary record and the investigating agency’s findings
  • conduct a complete use-of-force analysis
  • consistently report findings
  • take consistent investigative steps across similar investigations

Additionally, this report documents the Public Safety section’s collection and analysis of data on many aspects of policing, public safety operations, and Chicago’s police accountability system. An analysis of data from 2021 reflects the trend of arrests, investigatory stops, and use-of-force incidents continuing to fall below already historically low 2020 levels. Several visualizations and heat maps are included in the report to help readers visualize spatial and neighborhood inequalities.

“In 2021, the work of the Public Safety section extended to each of the involved City of Chicago departments and touched all aspects of public safety operations––from hiring to discipline, from core policing strategies to fundamental administrative functions,” said Inspector General Deborah Witzburg. “It is at the core of the Public Safety section’s mission to provide meaningful transparency into and accountability across Chicago’s complex public safety system, and to make substantial contributions to the City’s ongoing reform effort. By doing so, we strive to make payments against the debt of legitimacy owed by the City and its police department to its residents––to continue the work of fostering public trust and improving the relationship between the police and the communities they serve, thereby making Chicagoans, in uniform and out, safer.”

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

Real-time data on public safety operations can be accessed via OIG’s Information Portal.

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