OIG Finds That Shortcomings in the City’s Collection of Data Regarding Police-Related Litigation Compromise Risk Management Strategies

The Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) Public Safety section has completed an inquiry regarding the Department of Law (DOL) and the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) collection of data related to lawsuits involving CPD and its members. Based on the review of payments for settlements and judgments of CPD-involved cases from January 1, 2017 through December 31, 2020, OIG calculates that the City paid over $250 million in settlements and judgments arising out of legal claims against CPD and its members. During that time period, shortcomings in the City’s collection of data about those claims and payments precluded it from using litigation data to inform risk management strategies; that is, the City was poorly positioned to analyze trends, inform early intervention systems, improve disciplinary investigations, etc.

Specifically, OIG identified two areas in which the City’s current practices limit its ability to effectively manage risks associated with CPD’s operations: (1) DOL does not collect litigation data at a sufficient level of detail, and (2) DOL is unable to merge its litigation data with CPD’s related data (e.g., use of force reports and arrest reports) to expand potential avenues of analysis.

OIG recommends the following changes so that litigation data can be effectively analyzed and used to inform and improve or correct deficiencies in the conduct or operations of CPD:

  • DOL should develop policies, procedures, and training for its staff across all divisions to ensure that litigation data is consistently and accurately collected;
  • DOL should work to upgrade its case management system as well as remove the need to use multiple systems and forms for risk management;
  • DOL, the Office of Risk Management, and CPD should better coordinate to align goals and procedures to determine how to best collect litigation data, including how to ensure DOL data can be merged with CPD data; and
  • DOL, the Office of Risk Management, and CPD should better coordinate to implement industry best practices, specifically related to what information to collect within litigation data systems.

DOL, CPD, and the Mayor’s Office  agreed with OIG’s recommendations.

“The City lacks a comprehensive approach to the collection of  litigation data. It is therefore critically impaired in its ability to effectively manage the risk of expense to the City and harm to its residents arising out of CPD’s operations,” said Inspector General Deborah Witzburg. “Given the pressing need to reform CPD’s practices—and the extraordinary number of dollars involved—the City should take every opportunity to learn lessons from those instances in which the conduct of CPD and its members gives rise to costly legal claims.”

The full report can be found online at OIG’s website: www.bit.ly/CPDLitigationRisks.

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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.