Bocar A. Ba is a Ph.D. candidate in Public Policy at the University of Chicago Harris School. His research interests center around labor economics, applied econometrics, and economics of crime. His research focuses on how public policies impact Police Accountability using insight from the labor economics literature. He uses quasi-experimental methods with large administrative datasets to shed light on the functioning of Police use of force and the origins and consequences of Police misconduct.
In the attempt to protect and serve the community, police often receive complaints from civilians with whom they interacted. This setting makes policing fraught with agency problems. I use new, detailed administrative data to study the costs and benefits associated with filing a complaint against the police in Chicago. I exploit the fact that complaints without affidavits are considered null and variation in distance to the oversight agency to study the effect of civilian oversight on policing. An administrative change of location of the reporting center provides a quasi-experimental setup for the identification strategy. A difference-in-differences analysis suggests that a one standard deviation increase in traveling distance to the reporting center decreases the likelihood of a signed complaint by 6.2 percent for allegations of constitutional violations and 16.3 percent for failure to provide service complaints. In non-white residential areas, higher injury rates due to use of force and a higher level of force used per arrest were observed as distance from the reporting center increased. Individuals who benefit most from oversight are those with lowest valuation of complaining. I simulate counterfactual scenarios under a policy that would reduce the cost of signing the complaint. This policy would largely increase the number of investigations and the sustained rates for failure to provide service complaints in the most violent police districts. On the other hand, for allegations of constitutional violations, this policy would reduce sustained rates overall and marginally increase the number of investigations. This research sheds light on the tradeoffs that arise when increasing the cost of reporting police misconduct.