In an effort to increase the timely conclusion of investigations currently open at the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA), on July 17, 2023, we launched an internal project, the Timeliness Initiative. Through this comprehensive initiative and process, COPA will review investigations 18 months or older to determine if an alternative approach, described below, is warranted in order to expedite the closure of certain investigations. At the conclusion of this initiative, COPA expects the timely resolution of investigations related to newer complaints, as well as improved arbitration outcomes, which are adversely impacted by the length of the investigation. By conducting timely investigations, COPA will fulfill a core tenant of accountability and timeliness, both internally and externally.
Process and Criteria
In an effort to comprehensively review aging pending investigations, COPA identified a group of dedicated staff (four Investigators, two Supervising Investigators, one Director of Investigations, and one Deputy Chief Administrator) (Review Staff) to conduct a review of all current pending investigations 18 months or older and without any reasonable certainty of concluding within 18 months.
This selection of dedicated staff will provide a consistent standardized review of allegations of misconduct such as (list the examples referenced in the original memo) that may result in training or other remedial recommendations.
Prior to proceeding to a full review of an investigation, Review Staff will first determine if the investigation sufficiently progressed to a point where the scope and nature of any potentially viable allegations could reasonably be determined. This initial investigative review will consider whether applicable body-worn camera footage, statements from involved Chicago Police Department (CPD) members, complainant statement(s), independent video footage, CPD documentation, documentation related to other external investigations and/or legal proceedings, appliable CPD policies and/or directives, and other relevant direct or circumstantial evidence were obtained and included as part of the investigation file, and to what extent any outstanding materials/evidence may or may not be necessary to proceed through this review process.
Upon a determination that adequate investigative steps were completed, Review Staff will then evaluate the investigative file for potential low level but viable allegations. A discovery of any of the following potentially viable allegations will disqualify the investigation for closure through the initiative: Rule 14 violations or any allegation concerning an act of dishonesty, domestic violence, sexual misconduct, unjustified uses of deadly force, unjustified uses of excessive force resulting in an injury, unjustified uses of force against a restrained individual, search warrant procurement or execution, intentional misconduct, any allegation that may potentially result in substantial disciplinary action, highly objectionable instances of verbal abuse (as defined by MCC 2-78-10), allegations arising from an investigation that was referred to the Cook County State’s Attorney for potential criminal investigation, acts of retaliation by Department members, and allegations arising from an investigation garnering a high-level of public interest. Additionally, all officer-involved firearm discharges, fatal motor vehicle pursuits, and cases re-opened at the request of an external agency (i.e., Public Safety Inspector General), are disqualified from closure.
Should circumstances change and/or new evidence comes to light, COPA may consider reopening this investigation in accordance with COPA rules, policy, and guidance concerning the reopening of closed investigations.
If your constituents have any questions about investigations that may be subject to closure, please contact our Case Liaisons at firstname.lastname@example.org, (312) 746-3609, press option 4 to speak with a case liaison between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. (CST), Monday through Friday, or use the contact form below.
 The 18-month age mark is referenced from the date of complaint/notification registration with COPA.
 This includes allegations derived from the stated complaint and/or those discovered independently by COPA.
 If Review Staff concluded there were additional investigative steps needed, the non-disciplinary review process was suspended pending completion of those steps.
 Although not an absolute disqualification, Review Staff also considered whether potentially viable allegations involved vulnerable individuals, including juveniles, the elderly, and disabled individuals.