It’s no secret that the city of Chicago has been having a difficult time trusting the Chicago PD. There has been a rise in police violence and more and more officers have been accused of misconduct. There are currently over one hundred misconduct cases being investigated by the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), and the citizens of the city are not happy. Last week, however, the IPRA did something unprecedented; they released the files of these misconduct cases online for the public to view.
Police misconduct cases have been in the headlines more often than not lately, and this release comes as one of the first positive pieces of news. The country has been on high alert for reports of police brutality, and the citizens of Chicago especially so after the delayed release of the video that shows Laquan McDonald being shot.
The release includes records from as far back as five years ago, and the public can now access videos, audio recordings, and early reports from all of these cases. The common theme seems to be the firing of a gun; if a firearm went off in the presence of a police officer, the record is now likely available. The videos include some graphic incidents. One shows a man who assaulted a bus driver being shocked with a Taser and shot by the police, and another shows a van coming onto the sidewalk at a group of officers who then fired at the vehicle, killing one of the passengers. Others show very little action, and include footage of officers waiting around or an empty parking lot.
What This Means
This release comes at a good time for Chicago. The increased level of transparency will help to improve the relationship between the PD and those who live in the city, which will in turn help improve morale as a whole. While most are praising this decision, some have found aspects that they find more harmful than helpful. For example, identities of witnesses could be made public if they are recognized either in the videos or audio clips, and due process could become an issue as these are still pending cases. Others think that the release was a good idea but have found issues with the details. The timing of the videos’ release is one concern, as some believe that the 60 day allowance for posting is too long.
This release did not happen voluntarily on the part of the IPRA, however. The Police Accountability Task Force, a group hand picked by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, issued a mandate calling for the release. The interesting part comes next; not only did the Task Force issue the mandate, but they have recommended dissolving the IPRA as a whole. This is mainly due to the lack of confidence the public has in the group, as they do not have a good history of conducting their investigations. In fact, there is talk of the next group being comprised of independent civilians, which will hopefully increase the trust between the group and the public and overall bolster the PD’s reputation.
Contact a Chicago Police Misconduct Attorney
This new level of transparency will hopefully help to improve the city’s relationship with its police department. However, if you or someone you know has questions or concerns related to this, contact us. Our attorneys can help you better understand these changes and discuss your cases.