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Chicago police can no longer keep misconduct secret

An appeals court ruling will put an end to the withholding of information on complaints

Natasha Lennard
March 13, 2014 7:34PM (UTC)

A state appeals court has ruled that the Chicago Police Department must make public information about officer misconduct. The department has until now maintained a protocol of keeping complaints outside of public view, despite a number of recent high-profile brutality cases costing the department millions in payouts. As Think Progress reported:

The CPD tried to withhold complaints of misconduct from a journalist, Jamie Kalven, who filed a Freedom of Information request for the records of five officers. The appeals court determined these files count as public records. A lower court will decide whether the department can still black out sensitive information like cops’ names and phone numbers.

The decision could be transformative for Chicago. Civil rights activists and attorneys may now be able to identify and sound the alarm on cops with a record of abuse, such as the CPD officer who recently ducked criminal charges for shooting an unarmed man 16 times — his third shooting in six months. In response to questions about why the officer was allowed to remain on the streets after so many shootings, the police superintendent said the department had no way of tracking officers’ records.

Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email nlennard@salon.com.

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