OIG Advisory Regarding Use-of-Force Reporting
August 2, 2016
OIG has determined that the public reporting by the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) on the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD) use of force prior to 2015 was inaccurate and incomplete, and that IPRA could improve its reporting procedures to provide meaningful transparency, improve accountability, build public trust, and, ultimately, bolster public safety.
OIG determined that the numbers provided in the Authority’s quarterly reporting on its investigations of CPD weapon discharges did not match the number of actual incidents for any weapon type during the time periods reviewed. As a result, the reports did not provide a sufficient basis for a complete and, and therefore meaningful, assessment of changes over time in CPD’s use of force. Moreover, during the time periods reviewed, IPRA did not follow best practices for use-of-force reporting. The Authority did not articulate a clear purpose for its public reporting, it unduly relied on Municipal Code of Chicago (MCC) reporting requirements, and it oriented its reporting around its own investigations rather than striving to provide a truly comprehensive overview of CPD’s use of force. As a result, the quality of the use-of-force data reported by IPRA was less useful than it otherwise could have been, even when considering the areas in which it exceeded the minimal categorical requirements of the MCC.
During this historic moment of transformation of police oversight in Chicago, the City should recognize that use-of-force reporting is a crucial tool for meaningful transparency, accountability, and the fostering of public trust in the police department and the agency responsible for police oversight. To maximize the effectiveness of this tool, the City must articulate a clear vision of the purpose of use-of-force reporting, and provide the resources required to issue accurate and robust reports, including unfettered access to the relevant data.