CHICAGO (CBS) -- The city's police watchdog agency has closed its probe into allegations that Chicago police officers had engaged in sexual misconduct with migrants at two police stations, after being unable to find any evidence in more than two months of investigating.
The Civilian Office of Police Accountability said Friday that it has not been able to substantiate any claims that officers engaged in sexual misconduct with asylum seekers at the 10th (Ogden) District or 19th (Town Hall) District stations.
"To date, no victim or witness has come forward or been identified," COPA announced in a press release. "At this time, there is not sufficient objective verifiable information of sexual misconduct. COPA has concluded its investigative efforts and the case will be closed without allegations or findings of misconduct. Should new material evidence be received, COPA has the authority to re-open this investigation."
COPA has said that a city employee first. After launching an investigation with CPD's internal affairs unit, COPA also learned about similar claims at the 19th District station.
City officials quicklywho had been living at the 10th District and 19th District stations after claims of sexual misconduct came to light. But as more and more migrants continued arriving in Chicago, asylum seekers were later housed at both stations again.
Less than two weeks into the probe, COPA Chief Administrator Andrea Kersten said investigators. At the time, Kersten said she felt compelled to provide an update on the probe due to the "unprecedented amount of media attention and public scrutiny" the investigation had generated.
COPA said, during its probe, it questioned multiple officers, migrants, and others; reached out to various faith and community leaders and service providers; canvassed multiple locations such as migrant shelters; and searched social media in an effort to find victims, witnesses, or evidence, to no avail.
"Because we were unable to identify this indeed had occurred, and that there was someone stating that this occurred, we didn't ever move into a posture where an officer would be officially formally accused, or alleged to have committed this," Kersten said on Friday.
COPA said if new information surfaces, the investigation could be reopened.
Since last summer, more than 15,000 asylum seekers who have entered the U.S. at the border with Mexico have been brought to Chicago, mainly from Texas, where Gov. Greg Abbott continues to protest the Biden administration's immigration policy by sending migrants to self-proclaimed sanctuary cities.
In the last week alone, 36 buses carrying migrants have arrived in Chicago, each bringing about 40 to 50 people.
As of Friday, approximately 9,300 migrants were staying at 21 temporary shelters set up by the city, with more than 2,200 sleeping at police stations or the city's airports.
In the last 10 days alone, the city has moved more than 1,500 people from police stations to shelters. City officials hope to eventually move migrants out of police stations entirely.
Mayor Brandon Johnson recently signed a $29 million contract with a private security firm to set up so-called "base camps" of large military-style tents to help get migrants out of police stations. The city has yet to announce where or when any of the camps would be built.
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