CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - The Chicago Police Department and the ACLU have reached what is being called a "landmark agreement" on the city's stop-and-frisk practice.
The Chicago Police Department says it will allow independent evaluations of its stop-and-frisk encounters under an agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union.
The practice has been a hot button issue for several months, with officers across the country under scrutiny for racial profiling.
Civil rights advocates call them 'stop and frisks.' Police call them "investigative stops and protective pat downs."
But whatever the name, the ACLU says too many happen to African American men in Chicago.
“We are in a time in this country where policing is being scrutinized at a level it hasn't been scrutinized since the late 60's,” said Supt. Garry McCarthy.
Some of that scrutiny is coming from the ACLU. Last march, it published a report suggesting 72 percent of the people stopped and frisked in Chicago were African American.
“The Chicago police uses this catch and release program of stop and frisk as a means to confiscate illegal weapons,” McCarthy said. “It’s a tool that every department in the country uses, and to be clear, we take more guns off the street than any department in the country. Every single year.”
But Darnell Smith believes he was wrongly targeted.
“The whole ordeal was just humiliating,” Smith said. “I was standing in front of my house waiting on food for my grandparents when an unmarked police officer stopped, searched me and started patting me down.”
He is one of several dozen who've filed suit claiming Chicago police violated their rights.
“Basically this is a racial form of gun control,” said attorney Antonio Ramnucci.
Well, now Chicago police and the ACLU have come to an agreement.
“It’s not going to be a change in the way we stop people. It will be a change in the way we record it,” McCarthy said.
And an independent monitor will look over the records and provide a detailed public report twice a year.
“So we are hoping with his oversight and our lawsuit and the agreement put in place, that it’s enough to keep the city of Chicago and its police department honest and maintain the integrity and respect that's required between community and the police,” said Ramnucci.
This may be the first time a police agency has come to this kind of an agreement with the ACLU without going to court.
Smith’s attorney says they will proceed with their suit to make sure Chicago police execute the new policy properly.
As part of the agreement, Chicago Police Department will have more officer training to ensure stops are made only when they have "reasonable suspicion of criminal conduct." Officers will also be required to carry out protective pat-downs only if they are reasonably suspicious the citizen is armed and dangerous, according to a report from WTTW.
Additionally, former Judge Arlander Keys will oversee the agreement and review reports. Then, he will use the data to determine if the city's practices are lawful. Keys will also make reports twice a year on his conclusions and make recommendations for changes in policy and training.
Police Superintendent Garry McCarthy says the agreement shows the department's "commitment to fairness."