Chicago police use stop-and-frisk excessively: ACLU report

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 23, 2015 3:08 PM

By Fiona Ortiz

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The Chicago Police Department, the second-largest in the country, uses excessive stop-and-frisk searches even though other cities have curbed the practice, according to an American Civil Liberties Union report published on Monday.

The ACLU said that its study of a four-month period last year showed "that African Americans are disproportionately subjected to stops when compared to their white counterparts. Black Chicagoans were subjected to 72 percent of all stops, yet constitute just 32 percent of the city's population."

The ACLU issued the report at a time of increased scrutiny of policing practices amid nationwide protests over the shooting and chokehold deaths of unarmed African American and biracial men in cities from New York City to Ferguson, Missouri, to Madison, Wisconsin.

"Chicago is out of step with other cities in terms of this type of data collection," Karen Sheley, staff attorney at ACLU Illinois, and one of the authors of the report, said in a phone interview.

Chicago Police Department spokesman Martin Maloney did not immediately respond to calls and emails requesting comment.

The ACLU called on Chicago to collect data on all stops or contact with civilians and to make it public. It also wants training for officers on the legal requirements for stopping people and frisking them.

Sheley said the ACLU had not yet filed a lawsuit against the Chicago police over the practice.

"It's always under consideration," she said. "Changes in other cities have come about because of either a private lawsuit or action by the Department of Justice."

The report said about half of the 250 stops that the ACLU looked into for its report did not meet the constitutional requirement for a stop - reasonable suspicion that the person has been, or is about to engage in criminal activity.

Last summer Chicago police stopped a quarter of a million people who were not arrested, the ACLU said, noting that New York City has scaled back its stop-and-frisk practices due to complaints that it was discriminatory and rarely led to arrests or finding weapons.

Chicago has a high number of homicides, 400 to 500 per year in recent years. While many U.S. cities have higher homicide rates than Chicago, murders in the country's third-largest city are concentrated in poor and minority neighborhoods with some of the nation's highest crime rates.

(Editing by Alan Crosby)