Chicago is seeing a rise in the number of disciplinary charges sustained against cops - partly because more of those cases are being resolved through mediation, according to the agency that investigates police misconduct.
The Independent Police Review Authority sustained charges against officers in 70 investigations last year.
And in the first three months of this year, the agency has sustained charges in 33 investigations. Charges were sustained in 42 investigations in all of 2009 and 44 in 2010.
Ilana Rosenzweig, chief administrator of the authority, said her investigators last year pushed to complete older cases that required a lot of work. Also, the agency started resorting to mediation more often to resolve allegations of misconduct, she said.
Mediation resulted in sustained charges in seven investigations in the first three months of 2012. "It's an opportunity for an officer to accept responsibility, to change behavior and in return, have a lower level of discipline," Rosenzweig said.
Mediation also benefits the officers because they do not have to go through a full-blown investigation and a lengthy grievance process, Rosenzweig said. The agency will work with the unions representing officers and supervisors to boost the use of mediation, which is reserved for cases that would not merit firing an officer, Rosenzweig said.That allows her short-staffed agency to concentrate on other major investigations, she added.
Police Supt. Garry McCarthy does not have to accept the results of a mediation. In one case, he sought the firing of an officer even though a less severe punishment was agreed to in mediation, Rosenzweig said.
The Chicago Police Board will consider whether to fire the officer, she said. Other times, officers have refused to enter mediation and a full investigation has gone forward, Rosenzweig said.
Some examples of recent mediations include a Harrison District officer who received a written reprimand for accidentally discharging her gun last year and two Wood District officers who had violations noted on their employment records after they accidentally discharged their Tasers last year.
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