Judge Says Chicago PD Must Release Nearly 50 Years Of Misconduct Files Before The End Of This Year

from the maybe-if-you-had-better-cops,-you'd-have-fewer-burdensome-documents dept

The Chicago Police Department is one of the worst in the nation. There's simply no denying this.

The Chicago PD ran its own black site for years, subjecting to arrestees to interrogations without access to legal counsel or notification of their families. Citizens effectively disappeared until the Chicago PD felt they had something worth booking them for. Only then would the paper trail begin and arrestees given access to their rights.

Police officers spent years screwing with recording equipment to ensure anything they didn't want recorded wasn't recorded. This resulted in only a couple of silent films being produced during the controversial shooting of Laquan McDonald. The surviving footage -- the stuff that didn't disappear because of a supposed "disk error" -- contradicted the official narrative, even without the mysteriously-missing audio.

There's more. Documents obtained through records requests shows thousands of misconduct investigations but very few punishments. The department used asset forfeiture funds to buy Stingray devices so it could bypass city government scrutiny of its surveillance tech purchases. Its gang database is a travesty even by gang database standards, filled with inaccuracies, sloppy paperwork, and a wholehearted lack of concern about the collateral damage it causes. And since it's so great at handling present crime, the PD has decided to take on future crime with its predictive policing program -- one that will allow cops to more proactively violate rights.

In the near future, we'll get to learn even more details about the department's awfulness. A FOIA lawsuit filed by a former inmate has resulted in a win for the general public.

In 2015, six years after his release, [Charles] Green filed a FOIA request with the city asking for copies of any and all closed complaint register files from 1967 to 2015. The request was made, Green’s attorney said, “in order to help him discover evidence of his innocence and to preserve and disseminate evidence of innocence to others wrongfully convicted.”

Judge Alison Conlon ordered the CPD to produce all files to Green by the end of 2020, noting that the CPD had “willfully and intentionally failed to comply” with the Illinois Freedom of Information Act.

Fifty years of complaints should be pretty enlightening. The document dump will be routed through the Invisible Institute, which has already done some great things with previous FOIA releases from law enforcement agencies.

The rollout probably won't begin immediately, but the Chicago PD -- which has only turned over about 100 files so far -- has until the end of the year to fork over the remaining 174,900 responsive documents it says it has on hand. Right now, it seems to be focusing its energy on appealing the decision and complaining about how producing misconduct documents will somehow be unfair to the general public.

The City of Chicago is committed to the highest level of transparency and responds to tens of thousands of Freedom of Information Act requests every year, including requests regarding allegations against Chicago Police officers. This request is different, however, as it seeks every Complaint Register file created since 1967 – approximately 175,000 files, each of which contain dozens to hundreds of pages… Complying with this request would present numerous challenges, including millions of dollars in costs and expended public resources.

I think the city's taxpayers will be fine with their money being used this way. Seems like exactly the sort of thing the public would benefit from -- a welcome change from the terrible policing they've been funding for years.

Filed Under: chicago police, foia, misconduct files, transparency


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  • identicon
    Bobvious, 16 Jan 2020 @ 4:19am

    document dump will be routed through the Invisible Institute

    That's of course after they've first been routed through "Shredit, Obfuscate and Redact LLC".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2020 @ 2:48pm

      Re: document dump will be routed through the Invisible Institute

      Yes, as soon as I saw the title, I thought that a more appropriate heading might be:

      Judge Says Chicago PD Has Until The End Of This Year To Permanently Misplace 50 Years Of Misconduct Files

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 16 Jan 2020 @ 4:42am

    I have to assume CPD wants to hide some truly heinous shit that would be in those records. Why else try to keep the public from finding out about the behavior of the police, whose salaries are paid for by the public?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Norahc (profile), 16 Jan 2020 @ 5:46am

    To:; CPD and any other police department
    From: the Public

    Re: FOIA

    If you don't want to waste lots of time and money on FOIA reequets, how about not violating our rights, being honest in your reports, and stop employing jack-booted thugs.

    KTHXBYE,
    The citizens you're supposed ti be serving

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    JoeCool (profile), 16 Jan 2020 @ 5:58am

    Expense

    This request is different, however, as it seeks every Complaint Register file created since 1967 – approximately 175,000 files, each of which contain dozens to hundreds of pages… Complying with this request would present numerous challenges, including millions of dollars in costs and expended public resources.

    Or cost the average person $30 for a USB stick and no more than 5 minutes copying files. Seriously, every level of government likes to pretend that FOIA docs are such a huge pain to handle, but all the money they get from the government each year, together with what the charge the receiver, more than covers costs... except all the lawyers they wind up blowing money on fighting each case in the courts. Cap their ability to fight FOIA cases in court to a set amount and it'd be much cheaper for everyone.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2020 @ 6:22am

      Re: Expense

      The reason FOIA is expensive is because they don't want to give out the information. This is true on all levels from what they try to charge with fees to redaction and sorting, and the fact they never prioritize systems which make the process more efficient and accessible even when it would save resources long term.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ben (profile), 16 Jan 2020 @ 7:25am

      Re: Expense

      By being ordered to provide all files, they at least don't have the expense of filtering the files -- no expert needs to examine each file. Just a simple clerk and a scanner. I can't imagine that would cost "millions". Investment in a good high capacity scanner would get the job done in less than a month and would be a capital cost and not even be applicable to this one request.

      More likely they'll invest in a low-quality copier and take the rest of the year.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        urza9814 (profile), 17 Jan 2020 @ 7:59am

        Re: Re: Expense

        They're still going to have experts examining each file, just to make sure they're redacting every single word that they can possibly justify redacting. Not that they're entirely wrong to do that either though -- the law does have some exemptions, and there must be reasons why those exist.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Bacchys, 16 Jan 2020 @ 7:59am

      Re: Expense

      That's certainly true for more recent files, but going back 50 years likely means files that only exist in hard copy.

      Still, they should be digitizing all their records anyway. This is money and time well spent.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    refob.com (profile), 16 Jan 2020 @ 6:01am

    business news pakistan

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    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Code Monkey (profile), 16 Jan 2020 @ 6:49am

    I doubt we'll ever see them

    Knowing what we do about the Chicago PD, there will be an unending stream of lawsuits to block the release.

    I highly doubt that all of those misconduct files will ever see the light of day.

    "Oh, crap. The warehouse they were stored in burned down suddenly. What? No, that's not my gas can.....huh?"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2020 @ 6:56am

      Re: I doubt we'll ever see them

      Totally would not surprise me if the judge was suddenly charged with a unfounded crime like corruption for holding the boys in blue accountable.

      in best Sean Connery voice The Chicago Way lives on.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Jared, 16 Jan 2020 @ 9:52pm

      Re: I doubt we'll ever see them

      I’d bet against you

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    the bob, 16 Jan 2020 @ 7:21am

    "subjecting to arrestees to interrogations "

    Great article! Note the above grammar mistake. It happens...

    No need to publish this comment.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2020 @ 8:11am

    Not News

    I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, everyone knew this was going on. You do not mess around with CPD or Cook County Sheriff's. If your friends disappeared for a few days, you knew why. If an acquaintance you see around suddenly has a bunch of new bruises or a cast and doesn't want to talk about it, you knew why.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    bobob, 16 Jan 2020 @ 8:54am

    I wonder if the PD's response will be Better Shred than Read.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Peter, 16 Jan 2020 @ 9:19am

    I forsee a future

    Where documents will be "missing", "redacted", "corrupted", "mistakenly deleted", "incorrectly files", "misfiled", or simply "flood/pest damage".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jan 2020 @ 9:50am

    One of the things here is that they have had time to comply already. When bits of government stall like this, they should be forced to turn over docents immediately, with the force of subpoena or warrant, and actual consequences for the full chain of command.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Annonymouse, 16 Jan 2020 @ 12:29pm

      Re:

      Just send in the JAG with a battalion of marines.
      I doubt there will be any connections between the two so little chance of forewarning and collusion.
      The latter know exactly how to use the equipment they are issued to maximum effectiveness as the former "play" at being military with outdated surplus equipment and minimal training.
      Standard rules of engagement against a hostile and armed foe.
      Also would have to raid all the various the brotherhood offices since they are part and parcel of the CPD.

      It would never happen but one can write a Netflix original eh?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      bobob, 16 Jan 2020 @ 7:15pm

      Re:

      Actually, the way it really works is this: They have to spend the money they are budgeted or lose it. Since they have been banned from torturing andf in general doing bad things, people they have to shift the torturers to the stalling department. If they start to fail at stalling, the department can blame it on a budget shortage and ask for a budget increase to hire more employees who have more expertise in stalling properly.

      See, it really does make sense in you think about these things from the perspective of a kleptocrat.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Wyrm (profile), 16 Jan 2020 @ 12:40pm

    and responds to tens of thousands of Freedom of Information Act requests every year,

    Do they count "f*** you" as a valid response?
    That's the only way I can explain the "tens of thousands" number.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Jan 2020 @ 7:05am

      Re:

      As long as they include a boilerplate FOIA "exception" after it, then "f*** you" is legally a completely valid response.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Wyrm (profile), 17 Jan 2020 @ 11:58am

        Re: Re:

        True enough, but it's not really illustrative of "the highest level of transparency" that they boast a few words before mentioning their responses.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Wyrm (profile), 17 Jan 2020 @ 12:00pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          As a comparison, it would be like saying "I'm a great cook because I've cooked tens of thousands of meals", not mentioning that they were all inedible and ended in the trash can.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 16 Jan 2020 @ 1:44pm

    What was that you said, Judge?

    Sorry, can't hear you over all the noise the shredder is making.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 17 Jan 2020 @ 4:27am

    Whole forests will be devastated and several cubic meters of ink will be consumed. I mean, we can assume they will redact a whole chunk of the files, no?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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