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Cops Accused Of Domestic Violence Get 50 Percent More Excessive Force Complaints, Are Rarely Punished: Invisible Institute Data

Between 2000 and 2016, more than 6 percent of all officers were accused of physical domestic abuse, data shows.

The Invisible Institute released a slew of new data Thursday.
Kelly Bauer / Invisible Institute
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CHICAGO — New data from the Invisible Institute released Thursday revealed police officers accused of domestic violence are often the subjects of excessive force complaints on the job — and they’re rarely punished or fired.

The South Side-based journalism production company released new, searchable data that includes police records dating back to 1967, the oldest records available. The records make public the full names of officers who have fired their weapons for the first time, along with officers’ use of force histories, ranks promotions, commendations and salary information, according to a press release.

“We’ve seen tremendous public benefit from this database,” said Jamie Kalven, founder of the Invisible Institute, whose mission is to help citizens hold public institutions accountable.

“The greatly enlarged and enriched data now available will make it even more powerful as a tool for holding law enforcement agencies accountable,” he said.

According to the Institute, the new data found:

  • Between 2000 and 2016, more than 6 percent of all officers were accused of physical domestic abuse. (This count excluded cases where multiple officers were accused or when the officer was not identified.)
  • Those officers also received 50 percent more use-of-force complaints than their peers and received complaints at a higher rate than their peers.
  • Between 2000 and 2016, officers with at least 10 complaints generated 64 percent of all complaints against police.
  • Officers with the most complaints are less likely to be disciplined.
  • Between 2000 and 2016, only 1.2 percent of cases resulted in an officer being suspended or fired.
  • Between 2000 and 2016, citizens were 20 times less likely to be believed than another police officer when filing a complaint.
  • Between January 2007 and June 2016, more than 8,700 excessive force complaints were filed and only 1.5 percent of the cases were the charges sustained. Nearly 75 percent of those complaints were filed by African-Americans.

The Thursday release included more than 240,000 misconduct allegations and disciplinary records as far back as records were kept electronically. 

The public database, the Citizen’s Data Project, was originally released in November 2015, after a landmark court decision and a major open records victory. 

A Chicago Police spokesman declined to comment on the analysis. 

“We cannot confirm the reliability of this data analysis, therefore we are unable to comment on it,” said Officer Patrick McGinnis, a police spokesman. 

Check out the full Citizens Police Data Project here.