Certain types of complaints against Chicago Police Department officers, including excessive force accusations, are investigated by non-police officers.

Currently, the independent agency Civilian Office of Police Accountability investigates certain types of serious complaints against CPD officers, including excessive force, domestic violence, and improper search and seizure. COPA also investigates all officer-involved shootings. All other complaints are investigated by CPD officers, typically police supervisors or officers assigned to the Bureau of Internal Affairs. All complaints made by civilians are initially processed by COPA, which then assigns them to the proper agency.

Chicago created COPA in September 2017, replacing the Independent Police Review Authority), another independent agency that served a similar role between 2007 and 2017. IPRA was frequently criticized for usually ruling in favor of officers and finding nearly all CPD shootings to be justified. After the release of video footage of an officer shooting a teenager named Laquan McDonald, Chicago’s mayor and city council moved to replace IPRA with COPA, which has a larger budget and more independence.

Until 2007, a different agency known as the Office of Professional Standards investigated serious complaints against officers. Unlike IPRA and COPA, OPS was part of the police department, though its employees were civilians rather than police officers. IPRA replaced OPS in 2007 after a series of scandals involving CPD officers using excessive force.

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