Chicago police, ACLU reach deal on police 'stop and frisk' policy

Reuters News
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Posted: Aug 07, 2015 11:15 AM

By Suzannah Gonzales

CHICAGO (Reuters) - The Chicago Police Department agreed on Friday to outside monitoring of "stop-and-frisk" searches by its officers following a report that found they checked a disproportionate number of blacks and made more stops than their peers in other cities.

The second-largest U.S. police department will begin keeping more data about the stops, including the race, ethnicity and gender of those stopped, the reasons for stops and their outcomes.

The data will be shared with the American Civil Liberties Union and with a former U.S. magistrate judge, who will issue public reports twice a year on the department's use of the stop-and-frisk tactic and assess whether the police force is complying with U.S. law.

The tactic has been controversial, with proponents saying it helps prevent violent crime and opponents arguing that black citizens and members of other minority ethnic groups are unfairly targeted by the stops.

"Stop and frisk is disproportionately concentrated in the black community," the ACLU said in the March report, which analyzed 250 stops in Chicago in 2012 and 2013.

It said black Chicagoans constitute 32 percent of the city's population but were subjected to 72 percent of all stops.

Chicago police agreed to step up supervision and discipline of officers who violate department protocol and to boost training about appropriate stops.

"It is imperative that we use every tool and resource in a way that is not only lawful but respectful of the residents we serve," said Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy.

Chicago police have been struggling with a spike in violent crime this year, with 252 murders reported as of late July, up 21 percent from the same period a year earlier. Reported shooting incidents also are up, by 16 percent, although property crimes including burglary and theft are down significantly.

The agreement incorporated the bulk of the recommendations in the ACLU report, according to a statement by the department and group.

"What we have done here is move past the litigation process and advanced directly to a collaborative process," said Harvey Grossman, the ACLU's legal director.

A federal judge in 2013 found that stops by the New York Police Department, the nation's largest police force, disproportionately targeted minorities.

On Friday, the independent monitor charged with reviewing NYPD stop-and-frisk tactics proposed changes to the city's patrolmen's manual, which if accepted by a judge would become binding.

The guidelines make clear that "furtive movements" or a person's presence in a "high-crime" area are not sufficient reason for a stop. They also note that a person's race may not be the only reason he or she is stopped by an officer, although they make clear that race may be among a group of identifying characteristics an officer uses.

(Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales; Editing by Scott Malone and Bill Trott)