Shootings in Chicago are Skyrocketing: Too Much Police Paperwork to Blame?

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There is no doubt about it, this year Chicago is experiencing a serious spike in shootings and murders. In fact, ABC7  reports that there were 65 fatal shootings in July alone. What is to blame for this spike in violence? While there are undoubtedly many contributing factors, the head of the Chicago Police Union claims that police paperwork is in large part to blame. In an interview with DNAinfo the union leader explained that the problem does not exclusively stem from paperwork issues, but that the implementation of two-page Investigative Stop Reports has led to fewer police stops and, therefore, more violent crimes being perpetrated on the streets.

Chicago’s New Two-Page Investigative Stop Reports

Starting on January 1, 2016, Chicago’s old checklist contact cards were replaced with two-page Investigative Stop Reports. Under the old contact card system, every time a police officer interacted with a civilian on the street the officer would document the encounter via a simple checklist on an index-sized contact card. However, police officers are now required to document each encounter by filling out a two-page questionnaire. This new requirement means that police officers in Chicago are spending much more time filling out paperwork and much less time interacting with people on the street. An article from DNAinfo notes that during the first 11 days under the new policy there was a 79% decrease in police stops. The article states that there were just 3,916 investigative reports filed during these 11 days, compared to the 16,698 reports that were filed during the same period last year under the old system. This difference is clearly astronomical.

The Chicago Police Union leader told DNAinfo that the new system is detrimental to proactive policing because police officers are being forced to do so much paperwork that they are not patrolling their corners as frequently as they used to. This means that officers are taking a more reactive role and are spending a good portion of their time simply answering service calls. However, some people are praising the new Investigative Stop Reports. A spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union told DNAinfo that under the old system Chicago’s police officers conducted hundreds of thousands of stops that did not help make the streets safer. He points out that while the number of police stops conducted this year is down, the number of gun seizures are actually up, which in his mind indicates that under the new system the police are stopping “the right people.”

Need Legal Advice?

If you have been accused of a crime in Chicago and are in need of legal representation, contact criminal defense lawyer David Freidberg today for a free and confidential consultation. Mr. Freidberg has years of experience representing criminal defendants in Illinois and understands how stressful it can be to be the subject of a criminal investigation. If you are looking for a lawyer who is dedicated to passionately fighting for your rights, do not delay in contacting our offices in either Chicago (312-560-7100), DuPage (630-574-1000), or Skokie (847-674-5400).

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(photo courtesy of M. Connors)