New Study Says Chicago Police’s ‘Heat List’ Inaccurate, Ineffective | WBEZ
Skip to main content

WBEZ News

New Study Says Chicago Police’s ‘Heat List’ Inaccurate, Ineffective

A new study from the RAND Corporation has found the Chicago Police Department's 'Strategic Subject List' has been ineffective.

For the past four years, the Chicago Police Department has collaborated with the Illinois Institute of Technology to run a pilot program to predict which individuals were at the highest risk of gun violence, both perpetrators and victims.

That ‘Strategic Subject List’ — or ‘heat list’ — was shared with police officers, who can organize a preventative intervention.

But the RAND study, conducted between 2013 and 2014, found individuals on the list were neither more or less likely to become a victim of a shooting in comparison to a control group. 

Study co-author John Hollywood said that during the time of the study the instructions given to officers about what to do with the list were too vague to make a dent in crime. 

“I’m giving you a list of people at high risk and saying, ‘Go do stuff, and report back,’” Hollywood said.  “And then we found out there was very limited reporting back on it.”

The RAND study also indicated that individuals on the list were more likely to be arrested for a shooting. The study offered a possible explanation for the increased level of arrests: Some officers may have used the names on the list as leads during shooting investigations.

The Chicago Police Department said the RAND study was looking at an outdated version of the list.

It says the newest list is more accurate and the department's use of that information has improved. The names on the list — and the method by which individuals are put onto the list — remains a departmental secret.

Get the WBEZ App

Download the best live and on-demand public radio experience. Find out more.

CLOSE X