Police in Chicago are blaming what they call the “ACLU effect” for an increase in the city’s growing gun violence crisis.
Chicago has faced one of its deadliest first months of the year since 2001, with at least 50 murders reported, according to The Chicago Sun-Times. The criticism against the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois began in January, when the non-profit organization teamed up with the Chicago Police Department to monitor police stops with the help of contact cards and thorough reports on incidents between officers and civilians.
Some officers claim the effort of filling out contact cards and two-page documents are driving down the amount of stops they conduct. Meanwhile, violence in the city has continued to increase.
The initiative between the two groups began after it was revealed the city’s stop-and-frisk policies disproportionately targeted minorities. Studying 250 contact cards, the ACLU discovered nearly half of them didn’t note a lawful reason for the stop.
The criticism towards ACLU mirrors “The Ferguson Effect,” the same theory that the death of Michael Brown at the hands of a police officer and the protests that stemmed from the killing were to blame for an increase of crime and hostility towards officers.
Their reluctance to make stops was borne out by a police statistic released Sunday: Officers completed 79 percent fewer contact cards in January 2016 than over the same period last year.
The “unacceptable increase in violence was driven primarily by gang conflicts and retaliatory violence,” Interim Police Supt. John Escalante said.
“The vast majority of incidents originated from petty disagreements that escalated into gun violence that tore apart families,” Escalante said. “Chicagoans should know that detectives are making progress in January’s investigations and have already solved 14 murder cases this month.
CPD has found ways to increase police moral by redeploying over 300-foot patrol police officers and 31 sergeants to vehicles. Police training has also been increased to prevent more cases similar to the Laquan McDonald shooting. The 17-year-old was fatally shot by Officer Jason Van Dyke after he was seen walking away from the officer during an encounter in October 2014. Van Dyke was charged with six counts of first-degree murder and one count of official misconduct.
When it comes to the reported distaste for contact cards, Escalante says the force is working to impose the new laws, says the Sun-Times:
To address the sharp drop in officers producing contact cards — a bellwether of police activity — Escalante said: “We are conducting training on the new investigative stop law and reporting requirements and that is taking place three shifts per day.”
While police officers pulled over a substantial amount of people in December 2015, January has shown just what the site calls “a handful.”
The real effects of the police partnership with the ACLU will come to light in June. The deal with the group requires a retired federal judge to review the contact cards then for any possible constitutional violations.