Complaint Outcomes / by Sukari Stone

Of the 49,690 accusations with identified officers in the period of examination, 44,895 have non-missing Recommended and Final Findings, non-missing investigation close dates, and had between 2008 and 2015. Accusations with missing findings are either the result of poor data collection, or, more likely, an investigation being incomplete, and thus no recommended or final finding is recorded. There are 5 outcomes: Sustained (SU), Not Sustained (NS), Unfounded (UN), Exonerated (EX), and No Affidavit (NAF). These terms, other than No Affidavit, which means the complainant did not sign an affidavit and thus no investigation was likely to take place, are described below in the 2017 DoJ Report (not that the report uses ‘complaint’ in place of ‘accusation’):

“Sustained” means the complaint was supported by sufficient evidence to justify disciplinary action. “Not sustained” means the evidence was insufficient to either prove or disprove the complaint. “Unfounded” means the facts revealed by the investigation did not support the complaint (e.g., the complained-of conduct did not occur). “Exonerated” means the complained-of conduct occurred, but the accused officer’s actions were proper under the circumstances.

Outcomes for Civilian vs. Officer Complaints

A complaint (containing one or many accusations) can be filed by either a civilian (non-police officer) or a police officer against a member of the CPD. All accusation outcomes within a complaint do not have to be the same. From the plots below, it is clear that civilian complaints are much more likely to not have an affidavit signed compared to officer complaints. Similarly, given an affidavit is signed, officer complaints are fairly likely to end in a sustained (SU) finding.

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Outcomes by Officer Demographics

Given an affidavit was signed, officer complaints maintain an astoundingly larger sustained rate (50.76%) than civilian complaints (4.14%). However, in both officer and civilian filed complaints, black officers accused of misconduct are more likely to be sustained against. Accusations by officers against black officers are 57.7% sustained, compared the sustained percent of white and Hispanic officers (44.86 and 51.11, respectively). In civilian complaints, accusations against black officers are 5.98% sustained, compared the sustained percent of white and Hispanic officers (3.43 and 3.89, respectively).

Outcomes Over Time

Over the period of analysis, complaints resulting in No Affidavit (NAF) hold a consistent plurality (56.8% of all outcomes), while the number of complaints that are sustained (SU) is abysmally low (5.76% of all outcomes). The share of complaints resulting NAF begins at 59.31% of outcomes for complaints in 2008 and declines steadily to a low of 47.08% in 2011, then rises steadily to 47.08% in 2015. The rate of sustained findings remains relatively constant, only fluctuating between 4.38% and 8.5% in 2010 and 2013, respectively.


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