The Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) partnered with Michele Clark Academic Prep Magnet High School March 14-16, 2018 on Chicago’s west side. Nearly 80 freshman and seniors from Civics and World Studies classes participated alongside their teachers to learn about COPA as an agency, its role in police accountability and meet staff. Sessions focused on the History of Civilian Police Oversight and Chicago Police Departments Use of Force and Deadly Force policy. Students learned about Totality of Circumstances, Proportionality and Reasonable Objectiveness as outlined in the Chicago Police Department’s Use of Force Policy and how COPA analyzes incidents of excessive force. Students also discussed interactions they have witnessed or viewed on social media and how they were impacted.
COPA staff shared with students how the agency investigates allegations and taught students how to do the same using a mock case. This allowed students to serve in roles of civilian investigators who are given the charge to maintain public trust while determining if actions are “within policy” or “outside of policy”. The objective of this experience centered on exposing students to the departments policy and how agency’s like COPA are in place as a means of accountability. Each session created healthy discussion and debate among students. Using a value clarification exercises students took discussions and shared their opinion and ideas on controversial topics which allowed COPA leadership to hear and encourage civic engagement and responsibility.