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by Peter Moskos

February 28, 2016

Stop paperwork (2)

An email from a Chicago Police Officer (emphasis added by me):
I wanted to go through our new "investigatory stop report (ISR)" training before I replied. By now you realize we have an extremely long form to fill out every time we do a street stop. The form is ridiculous and redundant but fortunately the department has created a shorter form that will we start using on March 1st. I think they missed the point with the gripes about low street stops. The form sucks, is burdensome, and redundant, but it's just paperwork.

The issue is that there is still heavy oversight by the ACLU and many private attorneys and their quick access to all information on ISRs. So now, instead of just your sergeant deciding if you have articulated enough reasonable suspicion, each ISR has to be approved by a sergeant, the integrity unit, and then combed over by an endless amount of lawyers looking for the slightest hiccup in the report. Private attorneys have started contacted people stopped about two weeks after each incident, by phone and/or mail and asking them how the police treated them while they were stopped. This is really unsettling.

All of this seems like a direct result from the McDonald shooting, even if it's not. Although no one is talking about it (the media has moved on to other police issues from where we park to the "thin blue line" code of silence). Immediately after the dashboard camera video came out, most cops were defending the shooting even after seeing the video. I get it. I would not have shot, but I understand why Van Dyke did. A crazed maniac on PCP with a knife is certainly dangerous and it doesn't morally bother me that he was shot. I do think it was a bad shooting, but not by much. Although, I come from a newer generation of policing with a different mindset I suppose.

After the protests and eventually when the ISR system came out, everyone started to vilify Van Dyke as the cause of all this oversight whether or not they believed it was a good shoot or not. Those that believed it was a good shot, no longer say anything about it, if that makes any sense. Basically, no one is supporting Van Dyke anymore, at least not openly. Meanwhile, street stops are down an astronomical percent and homicides are at at 12-year high through February. On the 11th, the superintendent sent out an email to the department reminding them that it's still okay to do street stops. No one took it seriously but the bosses have to do something to get numbers.
The idea that every report is being read by people looking to sue police officers is not a way to encourage productive proactive discretionary police activity.

The first two months of 2015 saw 51 homicides. 2016 has seen 101. That's double, for those slow in math. If you don't want to call this a "Ferguson Effect," fine. I've never liked the term. But perhaps we can agree that if police feel they can't do their job for fear of lawsuits and/or criminal prosecution and thus do their job differently and then crime goes up, something is going on?

So if you don't like "Ferguson Effect," how about we call it the "when police feel they might get in trouble for doing their job, so police -- mostly to satisfy critics on the left who seem not to care how many people die as long as police are not involved -- get out of their car less, stop fewer people, interact with fewer criminals, and then murders skyrocket" effect?

See part of the police job is to harass criminals. Maybe you can think of a better word than "harass," but I use that work intentionally. Because policing isn't all please-the-old-ladies-going-church. People don't like to talk about it, but there is an actual repressive part of the job -- legally and constitutionally repressive, but repressive all the same. When that doesn't happen, criminals commit more crime.

[What I also find interesting in that a change in police culture with regards to what constitutes a good shooting is happening in front of our very eyes in Chicago.]

And here's the email from the Acting Chief:
Good Evening Everyone,

I want to clarify concerns regarding the Investigatory Stop Report (ISR) and the Department's Agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois (ACLU). I have heard your concerns and I am working toward a solution.

First, since January 1, 2016, Illinois Law requires all law enforcement agencies in Illinois to document investigatory stops and protective pat downs. We are not alone in this endeavor; the entire state is tasked with documenting investigatory stops and protective pat downs. Neither the law nor the Department's Policy has changed as to when stops and pat-downs are appropriate; merely the documentation has changed.

Second, Officers will not be disciplined for honest mistakes. I know that the Department ISR Policy has been in effect since January 1, 2016. The Department is working tirelessly to train everyone on the ISR policy and procedures. I know there is a learning curve and I appreciate your understanding as we make this transition.

Third, I would like to clarify the agreement between the Chicago Police Department and the ACLU. The Department has not relinquished any control of our policies and procedures to the ACLU. The agreement does not provide the ACLU with any role whatsoever with respect to individual officers’ compliance with the Department’s policies. The Department alone is responsible for supervising compliance with policies and procedures. Rather, the Department’s agreement with the ACLU provides that a former federal judge, the Honorable Arlander Keys, will review CPD’s policies, practices, and data regarding investigatory stops and recommend any changes that are reasonable and necessary to comply with the law, and that the ACLU will have an opportunity to review and comment upon CPD’s policies, practices, and data.

Fourth, our Department is working to reduce the burden on officers. Remember, completing an ISR is in the best interests of Officers based on the Illinois State Law. A properly completed ISR helps protect the officer by documenting the basis for the stop and any resulting pat-down. Additionally, the transparency of the agreement with the ACLU and the ISR create a trust and mutual respect between our agency and the communities we serve.

Lastly, officer safety is one of my greatest concerns, and continues to be a valid basis for a protective pat down. Officers simply need to describe in the ISR why they believe their safety was at risk. To perform a stop, an officer must have reasonable articulable suspicion, based on the facts and circumstances, that a crime has been, is being or is about to be committed. And, before an officer conducts a protective pat-down, he or she must have reasonable articulable suspicion that a person stopped is armed and dangerous and therefore poses a threat to the officer's safety or the safety of others. Neither of these requirements are new policies.

I appreciate all of the hard work that each of you do on a daily basis. Additionally, thank you for your service and dedication to the people of Chicago. Take care and stay safe.

John J. Escalante
Interim Superintendent of Police
Chicago Police Department
Here's the long form in question and my previous post on "stop paperwork."

Maybe Chicago could learn from the Baltimore way of motivating cops: pull your weight; and no "submission experts" or "JV third stringers" need apply!


IrishPirate said...

Somehow the original "Frankenstein" pic from 1931 comes to mind along with the "Son of Frankenstein" sequel in 1939. Picture the anti cop left post Ferguson demanding change and creating "the monster". Essentially they're the Dr. Frankenstein. The Monster walks around waving his hand in front of policing while saying "Policing Bad. Ugh. Policing Bad" while gesticulating wildly.

Later after the little girl is accidentally killed by "the monster" the villagers, who didn't create "the monster", but are suffering the consequences gather torches and pitchforks and kill it.

Think of the villagers as the urban black communities in America who once again are on the wrong end of the American Experience.

Of course since homicide hasn't gone up uniformly across America the Ferguson Effect is obviously wrong. Ack.

Policing matters and as you've said part of the job is to harass or disrupt criminals. Now it's not going to matter too much in some middle income or upper middle income community whether the cops are hassling criminals because they have little crime amenable to disruption. Not a whole lot of idiots standing on corners slinging narcotics in middle income areas.

Nope. Middle income people either drive to the drugs or they get delivered or sold in some non street manner. Hell, maybe they just get a prescription from Dr. Feelgood.

Policing matters. Good policing matters. Bad policing does harm. Lather, rinse, repeat.

So endeth the rant. I didn't watch the Oscars but saw Dicaprio won. Feck him. Movie was beautifully shot, but BORING.

aNanyMouse said...

Once again, both sides of debate on an important issue drop the ball, caricature-style.

To supporters of the BLM/ACLU side, I ask: why the hell do you push for ISRs on, not ones limited to cases of subject death or GBH, but for ALL street stops? The big beef here is on shootings, not owies on fingernails stemming from pat-downs. If a subject lets a PO pat him down, that subject almost always is playing ball, so why make a Federal case out of it? WTF? What purpose can a demand for ISRs on all stops have, if not to sabotage cops’ incentive to “harass” real criminals?

To (quasi-) supporters of Van Dyke, I ask: if it wasn’t such a bad shoot, why didn’t he and his colleagues come clean in their reports, on McDonald’s moving away from, rather than toward, Van Dyke? Why weren’t they charged as accomplices (esp. since they did lie on key details), as IL law allows? If they did come clean, please say which report page-numbers specify this. When did slashing of tires and a windshield become good evidence of a subject being an Assailant who “will probably cause immediate death” or GBH (as required by the Use of Force model, for use of firearms)?

Both sides behave as if they’re trying to sabotage reasonable consideration of relevant facts. So sad.

Otis Blue said...

@ aNanyMouse

I understand the BLM/ACLU argument to be that shootings are really just the ultimate expression/result of a biased system where police view all people of color as criminals to be harassed and feared. Therefore, reducing stops in general is viewed as attacking the problem at a deeper root. I'm straying farther afield here, but I think the BLM/ACLU also view this perceived police harassment as little more than a band-aid of limited utility that has long term negative oppressive effects on the community that represent a barrier to true reform and that a (hopefully temporary) spike in violence is an unfortunate side effect of the desired march forward. I don't agree with this worldview, but I've tried pretty hard to get my mind around at least a portion of it.

The McDonald shooting is problematic with regards to police supporting it as a good shoot. I think an argument could be made for the initial volley of shots where I see McDonald walking parallel to the officers until the point where his left hip turns slightly in what might be successfully argued to be the first action in a change in direction towards the officers. Had the shooting been just a few rounds, I would have counted this as one of those lawful but likely unnecessary shootings. I have doubts that in today's climate a jury would agree, but it would be a debate. The rest of the shooting, however, is a disaster and speaks to a mindset in Van Dyke that can most succinctly be described as not consistent with a reasonable officer. This mindset poisons any argument that the first rounds were a reasonable, rational response to a legitimately perceived threat. That said, holding Van Dyke up as a martyr to the anti-police zeitgeist seems misguided to me, but it is not nearly so misguided as charging the other officers on scene who wrote reports that color the shooting in favor of Van Dyke. I absolutely see how officers on scene could have recalled McDonald as moving towards them especially in light of how the human brain works in stress situations and with the desire to make sense of chaos where a trusted associate is involved.

john mosby said...

I wonder if any of the people stopped can sue to protest their information being passed to the ACLU?

Think about it: I'm a doper or a decent denizen of the metropolis. Either way, I don't appreciate the po-po in my business. Then I REALLY don't appreciate some Northwestern University or ETHS intern getting in my business a few days later.

Maybe the FOP can create a test case by sending some retired guy walking past an RMP while checking his pockets, limping, etc. Then once he gets stopped and the ACLU or Loevy calls him, he files suit for breach of privacy.

Just an idea...


Peter Moskos said...

Hey, can't help but notice you had to bring ETHS into this!

aNanyMouse said...

@ Otis: gripping stuff.
You’re probably right about the BLM mentality, but they’re picking a clueless means to their end. They’d be way better off joining Peter in his beefs vs. the War on Drugs, the end of which would not bring anything like the RISKS entailed by the “(hopefully temporary) spike in violence” to which you refer. Even if this spike is as temporary as these folks (groundlessly) hope, its consequences figure to dwarf those of the “long term negative oppressive effects” to which you refer. They’re cutting off their noses to spite their faces.

As to Van Dyke etc., it’s not the job of prosecutors to guess what a jury will find, about the mitigating circumstances which may well lead conscientious jurors to acquit him or his colleagues. It’s the job of a prosecutor to determine whether sufficient evidence warrants a jury getting the chance to make such judgments. When a prosecutor is told of a stiff riddled with 16 rounds, she must ask “WTF?” If, say, his pals’ reports told of them trying to restrain Van Dyke after McDonald hit the ground, I can see a reluctance to prosecute them.

Likewise, if none of the reports had claimed that McDonald's knife "was in the OPEN position", I can see a reluctance to prosecute them. But once Alvarez determined that the knife was found at the scene FOLDED, she ducked her job by not asking a Grand Jury to weigh charges against the liar(s). Once a would-be defendant is held to have lied on a material fact, his testimony cannot be grounds for not prosecuting him, esp. on related stuff, even if his pals backed most of his story. Unless these guys ever-so-clearly disputed his lie, we must wager that they ducked clear opportunity to do so, and are thus of similarly suspect cred.

aNanyMouse said...

A vivid Reader's Comment from another site says this about the Feds' beefs vs. cops' (being pressured to make) shitty busts:

"Whomever withheld the McDonald video needs to be charged with Obstruction of Justice, and coppers need to have their cell phones recording Roll Calls. The Feds need to hear when bosses whine about the lack of activity, or threaten you for lack of activity. In one respect, the Feds are right; there is no telling how many people were arrested, just to appease clouted bosses."

john mosby said...

I figured that would get your attention!

Andy D said...

"Likewise, if none of the reports had claimed that McDonald's knife "was in the OPEN position"

Not to support the shooting, which I think was pretty bad (I agree with Otis on the difference between the first rounds vs the rest of the rounds) but when watching the video I am pretty damn sure that I saw McDonald open the knife down by his side as the approached the first vehicle prior to the shooting. I have no idea how it ended up closed but Unless it was some other metal object that resembled a knife, I am pretty sure I saw it open. In the video below it is at right around 5:27


Peter Moskos said...

I too think the knife was open (and would written so on my report). That is not a cover up. That is what I see.

It is possible A) that my eyes are lying or B) somebody in the chain of custody closed the knife, as you would, because it's a sharp blade in a thin plastic bag. I suspect B, because I like to believe my eyes (though they might be wrong). Is there any evidence the blade was closed while still on McDonald's body after he got shot?

aNanyMouse said...

@ Andy & Peter:
On the folded knife, fair points.

I still think Alvarez should’ve given a Grand Jury a shot, in light of other discrepancies between the vid and the reports, e.g. about McDonald pointing the knife right at Van Dyke.

Andy D said...

@ aNanyMouse

No argument from me about a grand jury. I'm not sure if a GJ would have found the required Probable Cause for the intent portion of the 1st degree charges actually, although there is no way to know. I think Alvarez charged Van Dyke out of the same fear that motivated Mosby to charge the Baltimore Six--fear. Get the charges done before people riot and burn the city down.

I also feel that there ought to be some serious consideration to charges against whoever withheld the video if it meet the definition of Obstruction.

bacchys said...

>" I think Alvarez charged Van Dyke out of the same fear that motivated Mosby to charge the Baltimore Six--fear. Get the charges done before people riot and burn the city down."

Alvaraz sat on the video for a year. She's the one who "withheld the video."

aNanyMouse said...

@ Andy
It seems like you misread my drift. I don’t like Murder I on Van Dyke here, still less on any others.
There’s huge doubt that he premeditated anything.

Alvarez should’ve hit him, and all who put false stuff in reports, with Murder II, and she should bring Obstruction charges against whoever withheld the video.

Andy D said...

@ bacchys

My mistake, you are correct

@ aNanyMouse

Actually IL murder I laws do not require premeditation; just a deliberate killing or an action that the perpetrator KNEW could kill the victim. So if the GJ indicted, Murder I would probably be the correct charge. The only issue would be if there was "legal justification." That IS one of the Elements of the Crime which would have to be proven, and Van Dyke's only defense--probably a poor defense at least to the last few shots.


tmurphy11 said...

I do not see the need for an officer to need to right up a report for every stop they do, or even a simple pat down for safety. The reason I say this is because both of these actions are for keeping the citizens and officers safe. Traffic stops are one of the daily actions of a LEO, and we all know they do often lead to good arrests. The author in this letters statement regarding homicides going up with traffic stops being down, this doesn't tell society anything. The police are constantly under the microscope, which is not fair for them because they have not done anything wrong. Until you can prove their actions wrong, then I don't think they should be reporting everything they do while on the job. If this is the case, you might as well have a note-taker following these officers on shift.