POLITICS
11/25/2015 04:20 pm ET

Here's Evidence The Chicago PD Is Worse Than You Thought

The city's police department has a long history of failing to hold its officers accountable.

The release of a video showing the death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald -- whom Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke fatally shot 16 times in October 2014, as the teen was walking away from him -- has made the city's police department an object of national scrutiny, with questions arising about its policies, its practices and its troubled history with the city's communities of color.

Here are some facts and statistics that highlight just how bad things are at the Chicago Police Department: 

Chicago tops big cities in fatal police shootings.

According to an analysis by the Better Government Association released in July, Chicago police fatally shot 70 people between 2010 and 2014, more than any other police department in a major U.S. city. When adjusted for population size, Chicago ranks fourth behind Phoenix, Philadelphia and Dallas for this grim statistic. (Phoenix police shot and killed 57 people during the years in question. Philadelphia police killed 54 people, and Dallas police killed 34.) The report also found that Chicago police shot a total of 240 people over that five-year period.

Chicago police did not respond to a request for comment on this and other statistics highlighted in this story.

Black people are killed disproportionately.

The Better Government Association study also found that of 46 of the 70 people fatally shot by Chicago police -- 66 percent -- were black. However, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, just one-third of Chicago's population is black.

There are tons of complaints, but police rarely get in trouble.

Data compiled by the Citizens Police Data Project shows that fewer than 2 percent of the 28,567 complaints filed against the department from March 2011 to September 2015 resulted in discipline. Most officers who do face discipline are suspended for a week or less.

Van Dyke, the officer who shot McDonald, is listed on the CPDP website as having 20 complaints filed against him. None of those complaints have resulted in discipline.

White people are more likely to have their complaints validated.

The complaint data also shows that while black people accounted for 61 percent of the misconduct allegations filed against Chicago police, they accounted for only 25 percent of the sustained complaints. Meanwhile, complaints filed by white people made up 21 percent of the total allegations, but accounted for 58 percent of the sustained complaints.

City investigators aren't helping much.

According to WBEZ, the city's Independent Police Review Authority has reviewed more than 400 officer-involved shootings since 2007. As of July, it had found only one shooting unjustified.

IPRA is also known for taking a very long time -- in some cases, over five years -- to investigate shootings. As the Chicago Tribune reported in 2012, these extreme delays can lead to charges being dismissed due to the statute of limitations running out.

IPRA didn't respond to a request for comment.

The city fired an investigator who tried to hold cops accountable.

Lorenzo Davis, a former IPRA supervisor who investigated several police shooting cases, was fired by the city in July. Davis said he was asked to change his findings in three shooting cases where he found officers at fault. (IPRA has denied these claims.)

"The Independent Police Review Authority is being used to deflect protest and criticism from the police department,” Davis told The Huffington Post earlier this year. “What they’re concerned about is the careers of the police officers.”

Murder charges against cops are incredibly rare.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Van Dyke is the first Chicago officer in 35 years to be charged with first-degree murder for an on-duty incident. The last murder charges came in 1980, when three cops were indicted for beating a mentally ill man to death after he was arrested for smoking on a Chicago train. Two of the officers were found guilty of manslaughter, while charges against the third were dropped.

Read more on the case at Chicago Magazine.

The city has a major stop-and-frisk problem.

An American Civil Liberties Union report released earlier this year found that Chicago police are stopping and frisking a "shocking amount of people." In the summer of 2014 alone, police made 250,000 stops that did not lead to arrests. Police also disproportionately stopped African-Americans -- 72 percent of all people stopped were black, even though black people, again, make up just one-third of the city's population.

In the wake of the ACLU report, the Chicago Police Department has agreed to monitor how officers use the technique, and to further train officers to ensure people are not stopped because of their race or gender.

Chicago has paid out hundreds of millions for police misconduct.

According to a Wall Street Journal report published in July, Chicago police spent $249.7 million resolving police misconducted cases between 2010 and 2014. (Only New York City paid more, incurring over $600 million in costs related to misconduct.)

Meanwhile, according to the Better Government Association, the city spent over $500 million from 2004 to 2014 on settlements, legal fees and other costs related to complaints against police officers.

The police department is disproportionately white.

While Chicago is home to black, white and Hispanic people in roughly equal measure (each group accounts for about 32 percent of the city's residents), the police department as of 2010 was 55 percent white, 26 percent black and 18 percent Hispanic, according to data collected by The New York Times.

The city is still dealing with a decades-old police torture scandal.

Jon Burge, a former Chicago police commander, tortured more than 200 suspects into making confessions between 1972 and 1991. Burge was eventually tried and convicted, and was sentenced to prison in 2011.

The scandal, however, continues to loom large over the city. Chicago has paid millions in settlements to some of the individuals Burge tortured. And as NBC reported in August, many of Burge's victims -- most of them black -- still have not had their cases heard.

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