Just 124 of Chicago’s police force of 12,000 were identified in nearly a third of the misconduct lawsuits settled since 2009, suggesting that officers who engaged in questionable behavior did it over and over, reports the Chicago Tribune. Eight-two percent of the department’s officers were not named in any settlements. The conduct of those 124 officers cost the city $34 million, the Tribune found. While many officers as well as police union officials attribute claims of misconduct to the rough and tumble of working in crime-ridden neighborhoods, complaints against several of the officers occurred while the group patrolled relatively low-crime areas, focused on quality-of-life issues.
Of the more than 1,100 cases the city settled since 2009, just 5 percent were for more than $1 million. Many of those involved fatal shootings, wrongful prosecutions and the sort of brutality allegations that have drawn the attention of the U.S. Justice Department, which has launched an investigation into the Chicago Police Department’s use of force. Most were settled for less serious incidents, including officers allegedly injuring arrestees during traffic stops, making false arrests, uttering racial slurs or other alleged misconduct while officers were off-duty. Those lawsuits cost the city millions of dollars but underwent little scrutiny. A vast majority, 85 percent, were settled for $100,000 or less, which meant the deals did not require City Council approval. Chicago officers accused of misconduct are rarely disciplined, data show.