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November 5, 2013

IRC releases annual report

Nineteen complaints were made against the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) in the last academic year, one of which was sustained by internal UCPD investigations, according to the annual report of the Independent Review Committee (IRC) released last month. The IRC, the UCPD’s independent auditor, disagreed with those internal findings in only one case.

The IRC is an autonomous panel comprised of three students from the College and graduate schools, six faculty members and administrators, and three community members. The panel reviews complaints made against UCPD officers and decides whether or not to uphold the results of the UCPD’s own internal investigations into the incidents.

The IRC only reviews complaints that “allege excessive force, violation of rights, abusive language, or dereliction of duty,” the report stated. Of the 19 complaints made this year, 12 fell within its purview.

Five of those 12 complaints involved allegations of racial profiling by officers. The UCPD’s internal investigators did not sustain any of the allegations of racial profiling. The IRC concurred with the UCPD on four of those complaints and disagreed on one complaint.

In the complaint in which the IRC report disagreed with the internal UCPD findings, the complainant alleged that an officer “was rude, unprofessional, and aggressive” while telling the complainant to leave the Reynolds Club, and that the officer “used excessive force when handcuffing him.” The UCPD found the complainant’s claim to be unfounded.

The IRC agreed that the officer was not overly aggressive but pointed out that the UCPD did not properly investigate the complainant’s allegation that he was also racially profiled. “The Committee stresses that citizen contacts such as this damage UCPD’s reputation,” the report stated.

The other complaint that the IRC partially upheld, in agreement with the UCPD internal investigation, was a complainant’s allegation that he was racially profiled by an officer as the complainant sat talking to his friend in a car. The UCPD found that the officer’s initial actions were appropriate but that other officers who later came into contact with the complainant did not adequately help the complainant file a complaint.

Since March 2005, there have been 82 citizen complaints against the UCPD. UCPD internal investigators have either found complaints to be factually inaccurate or have exonerated the officer involved in 39 percent of the allegations, have said there is not enough information to make a clear decision in 32 percent, and have sustained 23 percent.

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