Complaints against employees are made by citizens and employees. Anonymous complaints are also accepted, although this sometimes reduces the ability to gather all relevant facts upon which to make decisions about any given employee’s behavior.
Not all complaints require a formal supervisory investigation. However, a formal investigation is conducted in all cases where an allegation of misconduct, if proven true, would constitute a violation of the department’s conduct rules. When the investigation is complete, the employee’s commanding supervisors, called a “chain of command” will review all the findings and determine the final outcome.
If a member of the public is dissatisfied with the police service he or she has received or has a complaint against a Chicago Police Department member (civilian and sworn), he or she can report the incident directly to COPA.
There are four ways to register a complaint:
- By calling COPA at (312) 745-3594 or TTY (312) 745-3593. These numbers are staffed or voice mail is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- By visiting the COPA offices located on the 12th Floor of the Illinois Institute of Technology Tower (10 West 35th Street) between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.
- By writing the COPA Intake Section at the above address.
- By visiting any Police district station and making a complaint with the desk sergeant. Complaints received at district stations will be immediately forwarded to COPA.
It is the policy of the Chicago Police Department to investigate alleged misconduct by Department members in a manner that insures objectivity, fairness and justice. While Department members are held accountable, each investigation must be consistent with the legal rights due them.
State law requires that any person making an allegation of misconduct against a Chicago Police Officer sign a sworn affidavit that certifies that the allegation is true and correct. If the person making the complaint did not actually witness the alleged conduct, they must certify that they believe that the facts in the allegation are true.
- Illinois law (50 ILCS 725/3.8) requires that anyone filing a complaint against a sworn peace officer must have the complaint supported by a sworn affidavit.
- Any person who knowingly files a false complaint may be subject to criminal charges or a civil suit. A person commits perjury when, under oath or affirmation, in a proceeding or in any other matter where by law such oath or affirmation is required, he makes a false statement, material to the issue or point in question, which he does not believe to be true. Perjury is a Class 3 felony.
- Chicago Ordinance (1-21-010 False Statements) Any person who knowingly makes a false statement of material fact to the city in violation of any statute, or who knowingly falsifies any statement of material fact made in connection with an affidavit, is liable to the city for a civil penalty of not less than $500 and not more than $1,000, plus up to three times the amount of damages which the city sustains because of the person’s violation of this Section.