Chicago PD Misconduct Complaints More Likely to Be Upheld if You are White

Over the past five years police complaints in Chicago have been seven times more likely to be upheld if filed by a Caucasian. Regardless of the fact that African-Americans filed three times the amount of complaints. Of the 17,500 complaints that were filed 61% of them were filed by African-Americans. 21% of the complaints were filed by Caucasians, and 12 percent were filed by Hispanics. The final 7% are complaints that were filed anonymously. Each of these demographics make up approximately a 3rd of the city’s population.

If you look at the number of complaints that have been sustained by the city of Chicago. 25% of them were filed by African-Americans. 58% were filed by Caucasians and the remaining 15% were filed by Hispanics.

Craig Futterman Law professor and Director of the University of Chicago’s Civil Rights and Police Accountability Project feels strongly about the way about the city handles its complaints.

“Race matters, It matters in terms of who is most likely to be victimized by police abuse, it matters in terms of who is most likely to be believed when there is a complaint, and it matters within the Police Department in terms of racial bias.”

The analysis of police complaints is based on the Citizens’ Police Data Project, a website containing misconduct complaint records for more than 8,500 Chicago police officers. The project is under the umbrella of the Invisible Institute, a nonprofit journalism production company, which released the information on Tuesday. A collaboration with the University of Chicago Law School’s Mandel Legal Aid Clinic, where Futterman works, the project is believed to be the most expansive public database of its kind.

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The goals of the project are to promote transparency and accountability by police as well as provide a database for the public to have  easy access to complaints. Overall, 56,361 misconduct allegations from 2001 to 2008 and 2011 to 2015 were analyzed by the data project, which found that more than 96 percent of cases were not sustained.

After analyzing individual allegations and comparing them to complaints the Citizens Police Data Project concluded…


Black people in Chicago are more likely to have police encounters and be in situations that are likely to produce complaints, several experts said. They pointed to “stop and frisk” practices and studies showing that African-Americans are more likely to be targets of traffic stops.

Allegations of false arrest and improper lockup procedure are more likely to be filed by African-Americans and are upheld less than 2% of the time. And the best chance they had of their complaint being upheld, was if it was against an African-American police officer. 

Allegations by whites are nine times more likely to be upheld than those by blacks and almost three times more likely than those by Hispanics. This may be attributed to documentation status, fear of retribution and the belief that no disciplinary action will be taken in order to prevent it from happening again. 

Releasing data doesn’t, in itself, eliminate misconduct, Futterman said, but the problem is harder to address if facts are lacking.

“In the context of an utter lack of reliable info, change starts there,” he said. “It starts with honesty.”

Brian Sumner

is an Activist, Journalist and Photographer from the Fresno area who has taken a special interest in the "Police State". He facilitates a watchdog group called the Fresno Liberty Movement, advocates filming the police and alternatives to state controlled protection services. He also served in the U.S Army from Oct. 08' thru Mar. 12' with a tour in Iraq in 2010. Most recently he participated in the CopBlock Network's #MACtour Check out more of my writing at: The Fresno People's Media & Follow me on Social media: Facebook YouTube