Tuesday, May 12, 2009
New performance standards for Chicago cops
May 12, 2009 8:45 PM | No Comments
The Chicago Police Department will begin evaluating its officers next year in a new way, examining not only officers' job performance but also their attitudes, ability to adapt and interactions with the public.
The department did away with its evaluation rating system about six years ago after complaints that it was too inconsistent and essentially a "popularity contest," Deputy Supt. of Patrol Daniel Dugan said.
Under the new system, officers will be judged on their accountability and dependability, problem-solving and decision-making, adaptability and responsiveness, communication with others and job knowledge and professional development.
A general order issued recently gave detailed examples. Officers who fail to spot a suspect in a vehicle stop or deal angrily with the public could be tagged with "requires improvement" or "unacceptable" marks. Officers could earn "exceeds expectations" marks for going out of their way to volunteer for extra assignments or for suggesting changes to improve current policies.
Other examples mention officers' attitudes toward department bosses or change -- a tenet sources say was included because of poor morale in the department. Dugan said that though attitude can affect officers' performances, the department is really trying to focus on getting officers to maintain professionalism.
"We're not asking everybody to go out and have a smile on their face every time," Dugan said. "Let's face facts. ... We see the underbelly of life and it has its toll. But we do expect officers to go out there and perform their job."
And while there's no mention of having to make a certain number of arrests or issue a certain number of tickets, officers could be judged for that too, if they're not addressing needs in their districts. As an example, Dugan cited issuing few traffic tickets in an area that has a high number of traffic crashes.
The ratings could have a real impact on officers' careers, even leading to termination for incompetence for the poorest performers.
Dugan said the new evaluation system will make evaluations fairer.
"Now the officers have some type of guidelines on what's expected of them and they'll know exactly what it is they're going to be evaluated for," Dugan said.
Dennis J. Kenney, a professor at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said few departments create comprehensive performance evaluations because they find it difficult to define exactly what makes a good police officer. Though he applauded Chicago's effort, he said the department should be careful not to hold all officers -- from rookies to veterans -- to the same standard.
"Part of the problem with the sort of subject evaluation is the supervisors who are doing the evaluation see far too little of the officer to actually know what they do," Kenney said.