Committee releases annual UCPD oversight report

University faculty, students, staff, and community members evaluated internal investigations of complaints against UCPD.

By Linda Qiu

Twenty-one complaints filed against the University of Chicago Police Department (UCPD) last year were reviewed by the Independent Review Committee (IRC), which published its annual report yesterday.

The IRC, composed of University faculty, staff, students, and community members, evaluated UCPD internal investigations of the complaints, generally agreeing with UCPD’s conclusions. In addition to reviewing complaints, the IRC’s report also included an analysis of complaints since 2005 as well as UCPD procedural recommendations.

In the report, the IRC responded to a number of complaints regarding traffic stops, recommending that “the UCPD consider ways to alert the community of this new crime prevention and safety enhancement tactic so that drivers…are not as taken aback as they have been by the new practice.”

Other complaints in the last year included three allegations of racial profiling and six of unprofessional conduct. Of the 21 complaints, six allegations—including one of racial profiling—from three complaints were recognized by UCPD as sustained, meaning that it was an incident in which the UCPD recognized that unjust conduct had occurred.

One complainant accused the officer of an illegal search and of taking $64 from his pocket (the illegal search was sustained while the seizure of money was not). Another sustained complaint reported inadequate umbrella coverage by a person who said he was accosted by a group of youths when the UCPD officer who was supposed to be following him disappeared without explanation.

A complaint of violation of constitutional rights was determined to be unfounded while an allegation of unprofessional, demeaning conduct brought forth by the same woman was unsustained. The complaint of a woman claiming her son was stopped unjustly and harassed by UCPD officers twice in one day was classified as unfounded in the absense of a signed affadavit.

In its analysis of seven years’ worth of UCPD complaint data, the IRC found that 57 of the 72 complainants were black and 54 were from the community. Sixteen officers have been the subject of more than one complaint. Rights violations comprise more than a third of charges, while 37 of 161 findings were classified as sustained.

Complaints are reviewed by a UCPD supervisor and then by the Associate Vice President for Safety and Security and Chief of Police Marlon Lynch, who writes to the complainant explaining the findings.

This year’s findings included a new category of “Administratively Closed”, describing complaints that are inconclusive because of a lack of a signed affidavit. Eight complaints received this new categorization in the report, which was recommended by the IRC last year. The UCPD can also classify a complaint as exonerated or unfounded.

The IRC, established in 1986, recognizes that there have been “historically small numbers of complaints filed against UCPD in any given year,” the report said. Since its creation, the IRC has only conducted one additional investigation supplementing the yearly report. In July 2010, the IRC released a 17-page report criticizing UCPD’s arrest of Mauriece Dawson (A.B. ’10), who was arrested in the Regenstein library after refusing to show his student ID to a UCPD officer. The arrest prompted allegations of racial profiling.