CHICAGO – Today, the most recent data analysis report regarding investigatory stops and protective pat downs (“stop and frisk”) by Chicago police officers was released in accordance with a 2015 agreement between the City of Chicago, the Chicago Police Department and the ACLU of Illinois. Included in today’s report, which analyzes data for 2018 through 2020, is a revelation by the Consultant that the City of Chicago plans to end the 2015 agreement with the ACLU of Illinois and, with the consent of the Illinois Attorney General, move oversight of the practice under the federal consent decree aimed at reforming policing in Chicago.
Over the course of the ACLU’s stop and frisk agreement, the use of the stop and frisk tactic by CPD officers has fallen significantly – even while the number of traffic stops by CPD have escalated dramatically. The following can be attributed to Colleen K. Connell, executive director of the ACLU of Illinois marking the end of the agreement with the City:
The termination of the agreement between the ACLU of Illinois, the City of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department marks the close of a period of progress and frustration. To understand the impact of the agreement it is critical to recall that in 2014, the Chicago Police Department stopped and frisked more pedestrians – mostly young Black men -- per capita than police in New York, despite that city’s significantly larger population and the NYPD’s problematic history with the use of stop and frisk. The data further demonstrated that the stops were conducted in a racially discriminatory fashion, with Black residents being stopped at twice the rate of Black residents in the city’s population.
The ACLU’s 2015 agreement with the City of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department was designed to ensure that pedestrian stops in the city were conducted in compliance with all laws, as well as the U.S. Constitution. The agreement had an early, important impact – contributing to the reduction of CPD’s widespread use of pedestrian stop and frisk. CPD went from conducting about 700,000 pedestrian stops in 2014 to about 100,000 such stops in 2016. It is not an exaggeration to say that because of the ACLU agreement, hundreds of thousands of young Black men have avoided harassment and humiliation by Chicago police.
But the agreement has not met all of our hopes and expectations. The City and CPD failed to meaningfully change CPD’s policies, practices and training about conducting pedestrian stops, frisks and searches. CPD did not take the necessary steps to ensure that pedestrian stops in Chicago were conducted in a constitutional and non-discriminatory fashion. CPD officers still lack a basic understanding of the legal standards required before they can detain a person on the street and pat them down for weapons. And, CPD still provides officers multiple opportunities to file paperwork to try to justify stops they made – suggesting that there was never a constitutional reason for many stops in the first instance.
These frustrations are confirmed in the data released as part of the Consultant’s report issued today. The data shows continuing, persistent racial and ethnic disparities in whom CPD officers stopped, frisked and searched. 1 in 8 Black people – or 12.5% of the Black population – in Chicago were subjected to investigatory stops. And Black people were approximately 9 times more likely to be subjected to investigatory stops than white people during 2018-19, while Latine people were approximately 3 times more likely to be subjected to investigatory stops than white people.
The Chicago Police Department failed to provide any explanation that could justify the profound racial and ethnic disparities in its stop and frisk practices. The racial and ethnic disparities in CPD’s stops, frisks and searches are not attributable to higher crime rates in police districts with higher percentages of Black and Latine residents. Black people also are more likely than white people to be stopped in police districts with majority-white populations, indicating that officers are racially profiling Black people.
The inevitable conclusion is that while the agreement has resulted in fewer pedestrian stops by CPD officers, residents of the city deserved more progress toward addressing the racial and ethnic disparities publicly reported by the ACLU in 2015.
We hope that now stop and frisks will be considered as part of the federal consent decree, the Monitor and Illinois Attorney General’s Office will continue to push not just for a reduction in investigatory stops, but also will work to overhaul CPD’s practices on the ground so that that all Black and Brown residents of Chicago can walk our streets without fear of unconstitutional and racist harassment by CPD officers.