The Chicago Police Department will allow independent evaluations of its stop-and-frisk procedures that critics say target blacks under an agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced Friday, as police across the United States face scrutiny about how they treat minorities.
The agreement that calls for increased public disclosure and more officer training follows a scathing March 2015 report from the ACLU of Illinois that found Chicago officers disproportionately target blacks and other racial minorities in hundreds of thousands of stop, question and frisk encounters.
"This unprecedented agreement with the ACLU is a demonstration of CPD's commitment to fairness, respect, transparency," Chicago Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy said.
Under the agreement, former U.S. Magistrate Judge Arlander Keys will provide public reports twice a year on Chicago police investigatory stops and pat downs, looking at whether the city is meeting its legal requirements. It goes into effect immediately.
The ACLU report identified more than 250,000 Chicago stop-and-frisk encounters in which there were no arrests from May through August 2014. African-Americans accounted for nearly three-quarters of those stopped, even though they make up about a third of the city's population.
The agreement comes after months of negotiations between the city, the department and the ACLU that aimed to avoid expensive and time-consuming litigation, the parties said in a news release.
"What we have done here is move past the litigation process and advanced directly to a collaborative process, to insure that stops on Chicago streets meet constitutional and legal standards,” the release said.
The Chicago Police Department does face a federal lawsuit filed in April and seeking class-action status. In that lawsuit, six African-American Chicago residents claim the street stops have led to constitutional abuses, including unlawful searches and seizures as well as excessive force.
An attorney for the men said the settlement could only bolster his legal action.
"I don't think the police department will come out and say `We were guilty of unconstitutional stops of African-Americans,' ... I certainly think that it does add a lot of credibility to the lawsuit," said Antonio Romanucci.
The city and department have agreed to collect additional data about investigatory stops. That includes officers' names and badge numbers, the race, ethnicity and gender of the person stopped, the reason for the stop, the location, date and time of the stop and other details.
That information will be given to the ACLU and Keys, who will oversee the agreement's implementation. The increased training is designed to ensure stops are conducted only when necessary and that pat downs are done only when legally justified.
McCarthy has been a proponent of stop-and-frisk and, in fact, he worked at two police departments that came under fire for their use of the tactic — the New York City Police Department, where McCarthy was once a high-ranking member and Newark, New Jersey, which he headed before coming to Chicago.
In New York, a monitor is overseeing changes to the stop-and-frisk policy after a federal judge ruled that the tactic sometimes discriminated against minorities. Last August, the city dropped its appeals of the decision after a new mayor took over who was elected, in part, on an anti-stop-and-frisk campaign.
And in Newark, the department was placed under a federal monitor after the U.S. Department of Justice found that during a period when McCarthy ran that department, 75 percent of pedestrian stops were made without constitutionally adequate reasons and in a city where blacks make up 54 percent of the population, they accounted for 85 percent of those stops.
The Associated Press