During Garry McCarthy’s time as Police Superintendent, Chicago had the most intense stop-and-frisk program in the nation—performing stops at a rate four times greater than New York’s at the height of its infamous stop-and-frisk program.
Obtaining data on this practice has long been a priority for Chicago activists and community advocates. But this has proved difficult. As part of the We Charge Genocide campaign, a group of young black activists worked to compile a report on the Chicago Police’s pattern of abuses. They investigated Taser use, misconduct settlements, police stops, and more.
During their efforts, We Charge Genocide attempted to introduce an ordinance in the Chicago City Council that would severely restrict the CPD’s ability to conduct stops. Before that bill could be introduced, the City announced it would enter into a private agreement with the ACLU of Illinois regarding stop and frisk. One condition of that agreement was that the ACLU would not release the raw data they had obtained on stop-and-frisk.
The Department of Justice’s 2015–2016 investigation of the Chicago Police found a pattern of abusive practices: shooting people who posed no risk to officers, widespread and systemic racism, and unlawful use of Tasers, among others. After the DOJ report was released, LPL filed a public records request with the City for an “index” of documents requested by the DOJ . That request showed that the thousands of pages of police records reviewed by the DOJ included so-called “contact cards”—forms that CPD officers are required to fill out after every stop-and-frisk. According to the DOJ,
The CLEAR description of the “contact cards” table indicates that it is the “[m]ain record for a contact card or traffic safety stop.” The CLEAR description of the “contact_traffic_stops” table indicates that it “[s]tores additional fields relating to contact cards of source Traffic Stop.”
Today we are releasing the full data set as part of the Chicago Data Collaborative. We have also made available some preliminary data visualizations and an open-source analysis. The original documents are available for download.
Lucy Parsons Labs owes a deep debt to Paola Villarreal for volunteering her time and effort to analyze the data and publish the preliminary visualizations.