Police misconduct unacceptable

By Lauren Kelly

Since March, allegations of professional misconduct of Chicago police by citizens reported to the Independent Police Review Authority have increased 19 percent, according to an Oct. 30 Chicago Tribune article. The IPRA is a city agency that investigates allegations of police misconduct and recommends a solution. At the same time, the department is reportedly about 2,000 officers short of its allowed strength of 13,500 officers.

This is startling news that needs to be addressed and action needs to be taken.

The burden police officers experience because of the 2,000-officer shortfall is severe. To combat this, the police department could start a recruitment campaign to add numbers to their force.

New hirings would give the Chicago Police Department leeway to fire officers who repeatedly violate its code of conduct. All cases of alleged misconduct need to be reviewed. The city may be reluctant to do this because of the current shortage of officers, but it should be done. It is not fair for Chicagoans to be fearful of the police. This reorganization would serve the public well in the long-term.

According to an analysis done by Chicago Public Radio in 2007, taxpayers paid $126 million from 2000 through October 2007 to settle police misconduct cases. This number would likely decrease if the repeat offenders are weeded out of the force.

Police officers are supposed to protect people, not be the aggressors. They are trained to deal with violent situations in a responsible manner and not respond with unnecessary violence. All officers are required to take an ethics and sensitivity class, but given the rising number of lawsuits, it doesn’t seem they have the desired effect. The police department should look at these classes and see ways to improve them.

To lessen instances of police misconduct, there should be a more open dialogue between police and the communities they serve. The police force is ultimately held accountable by citizens, and people should speak up and report any instances of police misconduct they witness and should make sure their concerns are addressed.

Obviously not all cops are taking advantage of their position, but the city must deal with the bad apples and make sure every cop is doing his or her job in a

responsible way.