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Police Accountability

The horrific killing of Laquan McDonald forced all Chicagoans to confront brutal and 
awful realities. Though most carry out their difficult job with competence and care, too many police officers are too quick to shoot without apparent justification. Others are willing to lie to protect colleagues who have engaged in misconduct or broken the law. Often, the victims are black and brown men or people suffering from mental illness. Unfortunately, the system that was established to identify and address incidents of police misconduct fails to identify those officers who act recklessly and fails to punish those who cause harm without justification. 

BPI is deeply engaged in efforts to reform Chicago’s police accountability system.  BPI’s Justice Reform Director Adam Gross served on the Legal Oversight and Accountability Working Group of the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force, which in April 2016 released a hard-hitting report, detailing a host of recommendations to reform a badly broken system.  As a result, the Chicago City Council approved an ordinance creating two new stronger and better funded entities to investigate police misconduct: a Civilian Office of Police Accountability, and a Deputy Inspector General for Public Safety.

Additional steps are necessary to achieve an effective police oversight system in Chicago. Paramount to the success of any endeavor is an open, transparent, community-driven process.  BPI is working with a group of 10 community organizations from across the city, known as the Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability (GAPA), to develop a meaningful community-driven engagement process—one that provides the community with a formalized structure to build greater levels of trust between the community and the police department.   

This community-driven process has two overarching goals:

    • Ensure that people across the city—especially those living in directly impacted African-American and Latino communities—are engaged in creating a new community-based body to oversee the Chicago Police Department.
    • Advance long-term solutions to improve policing and address structural racism in our criminal justice system.


“There is substantial evidence that people of color—particularly African Americans—have had disproportionately negative experiences with the police over an extended period of time.“


–The Chicago Police Accountability Task Force Report, April 2016

BPI’s Director of Justice Reform Adam Gross is featured in a documentary produced by Al Jazeera examining Chicago police accountability in the aftermath of the Laquan McDonald shooting.

Recipient of the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions

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