Public Safety

What is the role of the Public Safety section?
Public Safety initiates reviews and audits of the Chicago Police Department (CPD), the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA), and the Chicago Police Board, in an effort to increase public safety, promote constitutional policing practices that safeguard civil liberties and civil rights, and ensure the accountability of the police force, thus building stronger police-community relations.

How does Public Safety fulfill its role?
Public Safety reviews and audits the policies, procedures, programs, and practices of CPD, COPA, and the Chicago Police Board. It collects and analyzes data from those entities, issues public reports about a wide variety of topics related to policing and police accountability, and makes recommendations for improvements.

How is Public Safety organized?
Public Safety is comprised of an Analysis Unit, which conducts program- and systems-focused analytical and evaluative work, and a Forensic Audit Investigations Unit, which conducts reviews and evaluations of CPD’s accountability systems, including closed investigations of the Bureau of Internal Affairs (BIA) and COPA.

How does Public Safety differ from COPA, BIA, and the Chicago Police Board?
Public Safety exercises independent civilian oversight of CPD, including BIA, COPA, and the Chicago Police Board. Its jurisdiction allows it to conduct inspections, evaluations, and reviews of the the processes, functions, operations, and policies of all of those agencies. This jurisdiction allows Public Safety to look at systemic issues, whereas COPA, BIA, and the Chicago Police Board primarily focus on individual conduct and performance in the context of disciplinary investigations. In addition to investigations, both COPA and Public Safety are empowered to review CPD’s policies and procedures. COPA’s policy reviews and examinations of pattern and practice stem from its investigative work. Public Safety’s jurisdiction covers the whole policing and police oversight system, so the section reviews systemic issues in all three agencies: COPA, CPD, and the Chicago Police Board, including issues beyond use-of-force and police misconduct.

Does Public Safety take complaints?
Complaints, issues, and suggestions you wish to bring to the attention of Public Safety may be submitted through the OIG tipline or online complaint form where they will be evaluated, acted on, or referred to the appropriate body or agency.

How does Public Safety decide to review closed cases or conduct evaluations or reviews?
Public Safety’s work is shaped by our ordinance. Ordinance-mandated inspections or reviews of closed matters tied to police disciplinary and accountability systems are generally performed by Public Safety’s Inspections Unit, which also conducts pattern and trend analysis of disciplinary investigative outcomes for matters handled by BIA, COPA and the Police Board. Evaluations and reviews of broader operations, functions, programs, policies, procedures, and practices of CPD (as well as BIA, COPA, and the Chicago Police Board) are typically performed by Public Safety’s Evaluations Unit (at times in conjunction with the Inspections Unit) with ideas coming from a variety of sources, including complaints, comments, and ideas suggested by community members.

Does Public Safety consider recommendations from other reviews of CPD?
Yes, Public Safety considers all types of reports, including studies, investigations, and legal findings, related to CPD, COPA, and the Chicago Police Board. Some of these include: the U.S. Department of Justice’s “Investigation of the Chicago Police Department,” the Police Accountability Task Force Report, and reports by community groups, such as the Grassroots Alliance on Police Accountability Report.

How can community members participate in the work of Public Safety?
Public Safety welcomes the involvement of all community members, police department members, and other stakeholders. We rely on public input to drive our work, so we encourage all members of the City to share their thoughts, observations, and ideas with us. You can submit suggestions and comments online or by calling (866) 448-4754. Suggestions and comments can be made anonymously.

How will a consent decree affect the landscape of police accountability in Chicago?
A consent decree might obligate CPD and the City to make specific changes to their policies, procedures, and practices. The work of OIG and Public Safety may be expected to proceed both independently and in coordination with the consent decree, in support of the work of the court-appointed monitor.