Chicago Police Department Disciplinary Process Overview

Introduction

The Office of Inspector General’s Public Safety section (OIG) is required by City ordinance to examine Sustained findings of misconduct committed by members of the Chicago Police Department (CPD) and accompanying disciplinary recommendations, to assess trends and whether discipline is consistently and fairly applied. To that end, OIG has developed a comprehensive set of flowcharts that detail all stages of the disciplinary process, including all avenues of disciplinary review and appeal. The aim of the flowcharts is to provide an accessible resource—for the public, City officials, and Department members—that also will serve as a foundation for evaluative reports that OIG will periodically release on CPD’s disciplinary process. These periodic reports will analyze procedural consistency and fairness, as well as substantive fairness and consistency of discipline issued to CPD members found to have committed misconduct.

Agency Roles

The Bureau of Internal Affairs (BIA) and the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) investigate most allegations of police misconduct. The information presented here pertains to administrative investigations—that is, non-criminal investigation of rules, regulations, directives, etc. Usually, the type of alleged misconduct determines which agency will conduct the investigation. If BIA or COPA finds an allegation to be ‘Sustained,’ meaning the allegation is supported by preponderance evidence, the investigating agency will recommend one of the following disciplinary actions:

  • Violation noted (for sworn members) / Oral warning (for civilian members)
  • Reprimand
  • Suspension
  • Separation (i.e., termination of employment)

CPD reviews the investigating agency recommendation, which is accompanied by relevant evidence and analysis, and makes a final decision on the charges and discipline, which the Department then issues to the accused CPD member. The accused member may be able to challenge that discipline, depending on their position/rank and the level of discipline issued. After any elective challenges made by the CPD member are exhausted, any discipline that remains in place is final and is served by the CPD member.

Under certain circumstances, OIG will investigate allegations of police misconduct. OIG receives complaints directly via the OIG website, tipline, fax, mail, CPD member hotline, or other means, and COPA and BIA may also refer investigations to OIG, most notably where conflicts of interest are implicated or the incident also involves other City Departments.

Flowcharts

A Guide to the Disciplinary Process for Chicago Police Department Members describes the disciplinary process for all CPD members, sworn and civilian, for all types of allegations of misconduct and recommended discipline. This guide draws on resources from CPD, COPA, the Police Board, OIG, municipal ordinances, and state law. Each agency included has had the opportunity to review a draft of the guide and provide feedback. This guide will be updated on a periodic basis in order to reflect changes in CPD member contracts and applicable laws. To review the guide, follow this link or click on the image to the left.

OIG has also created a set of charts for each rank that describes all the possibilities for how a case that results in an investigating agency recommending discipline could progress. Charts for disciplinary processes that begin with BIA and COPA investigations are presented below. There is a separate chart for each combination of member rank/position and recommended discipline. This is because the review and appeal processes available to a member after the investigating agency recommends discipline will depend on both the member’s rank/position and the recommended discipline. A single flowchart depicts the possible disciplinary processes in cases that begin with an OIG investigation; click here to view that chart.