March 14, 2017 3:52 pm

ACLU Statement on Open Letter by former U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon

Yesterday, former United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois Zachary Fardon released an open letter aimed at addressing gun crime in Chicago. The letter calls on City of Chicago to reach a consent decree to reform the Chicago Police Department and creating new opportunities for youth in the City of Chicago. The letter also attacks the agreement reached between the City of Chicago and the ACLU of Illinois to address abuse of street stops, colloquially known as stop and frisk, in the City.

The following can be attributed to Karen Sheley, Police Practices Project Director at the ACLU of Illinois in response to the letter:

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Karen Sheley, Police Practices Project Director

Mr. Fardon’s blindside attack on the ACLU/CPD agreement is wrong on the details and the big picture. Mr. Fardon is wrong that the agreement took effect on January 1, 2016 – the agreement had been in force for four months at that time. And by then, Chicago was experiencing the cuts in the state budget to social services. Moreover, the agreement came not as a result of a lawsuit (the ACLU filed no lawsuit in this matter) but resulted from negotiations between the ACLU and the City after we issued a March 2015 report on the abuse of stop and frisk in Chicago. Finally, Mr. Fardon cites a widely exaggerated amount of time necessary to complete the forms to document a street stop and makes no mention of the fact that similar forms are used in many other jurisdictions where violent crime rates have continued to decline.

Mr. Fardon ignores the real impact and harm of these stops. Before the ACLU agreement, CPD officers made too many stops. Moreover, these stops were often invasive – with officers reaching inside someone’s clothing – and intrusive, happening repeatedly to the same person. These stops also were regularly conducted without a sufficient constitutional reason, and the lack of oversight of the stops reflect the same systemic deficiencies identified in the Department of Justice report on the CPD issued early this year.

Finally, Mr. Fardon ignores the poor results from the overuse of stop and frisk. In 2014, for example, CPD officers conducted more than 700,000 street stops that yielded no guns and resulted in not a single arrest. These low-benefit stops came at a high cost – they further damaged the relationship between the community and police. If Chicago is to address its gun crime and establish community policing that instills confidence of all residents, stop and frisk must be monitored and measured. This is what our agreement is doing.

Read more about the stop and frisk settlement.