The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

A Disturbing Number Of Chicago Cops Have 30 Or More Complaints, Data Shows

By Kate Shepherd in News on Nov 11, 2015 6:51PM

Chicago Police Supt. Garry McCarthy (Photo Credit: ~cynthiak~

Complaints against Chicago police officers have been made public after a long battle by the city to keep the information from ever seeing the light of day.

The searchable database has over 55,000 rows of data that provide an extraordinary look into the force's power, according to WBEZ.

The database release was catalyzed by local journalist, writer and social worker Jamie Kalven, who noticed that the police in Stateway Gardens on the far South Side treated the neighborhood's residents very differently than they treated him—a middle-class white guy.

He was witnessing police beatings, so he called in University of Chicago law professor Craig Futterman, whose students started spending time documenting police abuse in Kalven's office in Stateway Gardens.

Futterman filed several lawsuits against law enforcement, including a lawsuit on behalf of Diane Bond, who alleged a group of cops repeatedly broke into her home, forced to undress and wrecked some of her possessions.

The City of Chicago settled her lawsuit in 2007 but admitted no wrongdoing. It is common for the city to settle lawsuits rather than fight them in court.

Futterman managed to get the city to release police records for all officers who had ten or more complaints against them, including John J. Gorman, who is accused of firing shots at an off-duty suburban cop who believed he saw him drinking and driving last year. Some officers, like Gorman, had dozens of complaints but no action had been taken against them. The database shows over 100 officers have 30 or more complaints agains them—and the majority of them have been disciplined once or zero times.

"We got the information under a court protective order," Futterman told WBEZ. "We didn't know what it was going to show until we actually analyzed it and then what we saw-that's what was incredibly shocking, and then that's when we had this information and I felt like, oh my gosh, my hands are completely tied behind my back. We knew it. Not allowed to share it."

Futterman sued to make the information public and Kalven acted as his client. After seven years of litigation, they finally won the legal battle and published the complaints on a searchable website.

Shockingly for 27,000 complaints, there was only significant punishment, more than a week of suspension, for 80 cases. The database also shows another disturbing trend: black police officers are much more likely to be censured than white officers.