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CHICAGO — A new study has determined that taking civilian complaints more seriously could substantially reduce the most serious cases of police misconduct and the costs to Chicago taxpayers from legal settlements.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports legal scholars from Northwestern University and the University of Chicago reviewed some 50,000 misconduct complaints filed against Chicago police officers between 2002 and 2014.

The scholars, Max Schanzenbach and Kyle Rozema, found most complaints don't lead to lawsuits. They say "the worst 1 percent" of officers generate nearly five times the number of legal payouts than the average officer.

The study found that if that 1 percent of officers — about 120 people — were replaced with an "average officer" Chicago taxpayers could have saved more than $6 million between 2009 and 2014.

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