Police deny discouraging citizen complaints

Evanston Police Headquarters.

An Evanston police spokesman has denied claims from a member of the Citizen Police Complaint Assessment Committee that supervisors in the department are improperly discouraging residents from filing formal complaints against officers. 

Karen Courtright.

Committee member Karen Courtright said at Wednesday night's committee meeting that twice within the past three weeks someone she knew was discouraged by a police supervisor from filing a formal complaint against an officer.

But Cmdr. Joseph Dugan says whether a complaint is considered formal or informal is based on the severity of the claimed infraction by the officer.

If the complaint -- were it found to be true -- would result in the suspension of the accused officer for more than three days, then, Dugan said, under state law it's considered a formal complaint and is investigated by the Office of Professional Standards under the what the department calls its Complaint Register process.

If the claimed offense is less severe, he said, then the inquiry can be handled by a first line supervisor as a Departmental Inquiry, and the supervisor would submit recommendations through the chain of command to the police chief.

In either case the chief makes a final determination about any discipline.

The department's annual report says it handled eight Complaint Register investigations and nine Departmental Inquiries during 2016.

The Citizen Police Complaint Assessment Committee was formed last month. It is to report back in June to the Human Services Committee with recommendations on how to improve the police complaint system.

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