While it may seem surprising that so many complaints against one officer would be tossed out, a Huffington Post analysis of four years of city data released by the Invisible Institute, a nonprofit journalism organization, reveals that there are more than 180 city police officers with more complaints than Van Dyke who weren’t disciplined at all over that time. Most of those complaints were made by black residents, whose allegations of police misconduct are dismissed at nearly four times the rate of complaints filed by whites, HuffPost found.
Of 10,500 complaints filed by black people between 2011 and 2015, just 166 — or 1.6 percent — were sustained or led to discipline after an internal investigation. Overall, the authority sustained just 2.6 percent of all 29,000 complaints. Nationally, between 6 and 20 percent of citizen-initiated complaints are sustained, said Lou Reiter, a police consultant who trains internal affairs investigators. As HuffPost’s Ryan Reilly noted earlier this year, a lack of transparency and accountability within police departments is a phenomenon hardly limited to Chicago.