As lead attorney in the civil class action lawsuit filed against the City of Chicago and Chicago Police Department (CPD) alleging that the street stop (stop and frisk) practice is being done without reasonable, clear and distinct suspicion as required under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, I applaud the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois and the CPD’s agreement regarding monitoring how officers go about conducting street stops.
However, I am greatly concerned with Superintendent Garry McCarthy’s comments at the last press conference announcing the policy shift. To quote Supt. McCarthy, “It’s (stop and frisk) not going to be a change in the actual way that we stop people, it’s going to be a change in the way that we record the stop.”
Do I interpret this to mean the CPD will continue to stop citizens in the same manner as seen prior to August 7, 2015? I sincerely hope not.
According to the ACLU, more than 250,000 Chicago stop and frisk encounters took place over a four month period last year (May – August) resulting in no arrests. Of those stopped, three-quarters were African Americans representing about one-third of the city’s population. Comparing stops to population, Chicagoans were stopped more than four times as often as New Yorkers at the height of New York City’s stop and frisk practice in 2011.
The agreement, effectively immediately, stipulates that CPD officers collect additional data surrounding investigatory stops. This data includes officers’ names and badge numbers, the race, ethnicity and gender of the person stopped, the reason for the stop, whether they were frisked and other details.
Based on these newfound requirements, coupled with increased public disclosure and more officer training, one might surmise that there most definitely will be a change in the way the CPD stops people to substantiate articulable suspicion despite Supt. McCarthy’s assertion that there’s “not going to be a change in the actual way we stop people.”
If not for the pending stop and frisk class action lawsuit filed against the City of Chicago and CPD, this announcement from the ACLU and CPD would not have occurred. Stop and frisk must change or this agreement is an empty promise and more evidence that a judgement is required in our lawsuit to ensure enforceability.
What the citizens of Chicago urgently need is a policy change, not a change in policy.