Extremism in the Ranks

An investigation by WBEZ, Chicago Sun-Times and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project found allegations of excessive force, improper searches and racist comments on the job.

Months after the Oath Keepers played a major role in the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, a list of about 38,000 people from across the country who had joined the anti-government extremist group emerged publicly. But little was done to investigate the Chicago police officers on those rolls.

The Sun-Times and WBEZ filed more than 200 open-records requests with the Chicago Police Department and other law enforcement agencies across Illinois. Those requests sought the personnel files for dozens of current and retired cops around the state whose names appeared in the leaked list.

In this monthslong investigation, we found troubling allegations against some of these officers and spoke to people who filed official complaints.

This investigation is in partnership with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project. The series is also part of the Democracy Solutions Project — a joint effort between WBEZ, the Chicago Sun-Times and the University of Chicago’s Center for Efffective Government — exploring critical issues facing our democracy.