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Good Cop, Bad Cop: An Analysis of Chicago Civilian Allegations of Police Misconduct

40 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2016 Last revised: 29 Nov 2016

Date Written: November 28, 2016

Abstract

Preventing police officer misconduct, while giving police officers the incentives and flexibility to fight crime, is a notoriously difficult challenge. We explore whether civilian complaints can help identify and reduce police officer misconduct. Using data on over 50,000 civilian allegations against police officers in Chicago over a 13-year period, we find that civilian allegations are strongly associated with (1) non-civilian allegations of misconduct, such as allegations from supervisors, and (2) the likelihood of and outcomes in civil rights litigation. We conclude that civilian allegations contain a strong signal of police officer misconduct. In particular, lawsuits against police officers are external and quantifiable measures of officer misconduct and typically arise from serious incidents. We further find that, if an administrative body sustains an allegation against an officer, that officer’s civilian allegation rate decreases and the probability that he or she exits the force increases. We conclude that civilian allegations against police officers in Chicago can be better utilized to prevent misconduct.

Keywords: Policing, Personnel Economics, Police Misconduct, Civil Rights, Civil Rights Litigation, Public Finance

JEL Classification: H11, H75, H76, J4, K14, K42, M12, K10

Suggested Citation

Rozema, Kyle and Schanzenbach, Max M., Good Cop, Bad Cop: An Analysis of Chicago Civilian Allegations of Police Misconduct (November 28, 2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2866696 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2866696

Kyle Rozema

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

1111 E. 60th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.kylerozema.com

Max Matthew Schanzenbach (Contact Author)

Northwestern University - Pritzker School of Law ( email )

375 E. Chicago Ave
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

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