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Chicago Will Apply Police Accountability Task Force’s Recommendation: Release Videos Within 60 Days

Tue February 16 2016 7:07 pm
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Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he will instantly enact the Police Accountability Task Force’s recommendation to released certain types of videos involving violence or physical force within 60 days of the incident. The task force had produced the recommendation regarding the timing of public release of video and other evidence related to police-involved shootings.

The task force has recommended to require video, audio, and 911 calls involving police shootings, the use of a stun gun or physical force be released within 60 days of the incident. If police or prosecutors think the release of the media would hurt an investigation, they could ask for a delay — but only for an additional 30 days.

“This is all about an attempt to rebuild the trust between the community and police,” said Sergio Acosta, a Police Accountability Task Force member.

Historically, when reporters and the public have used Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) laws to try to get video of police-involved shootings released, the police would respond with the word, “denied”. Police would cite an ongoing investigation and oftentimes, it would be a year or more before the video would be made public.

Recently controversy involved a hidden video that took more than a year – plus a judge’s order – for the City of Chicago to release the video that showed a Chicago police officer shooting Laquan McDonald to death.

Not Just Video, But Audio and Written Reports
“We hope not just video, but audio and the police reports that are also part of our policy will give a fuller picture of what occurred in a particular incident,” Acosta said.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel created the Police Accountability Task Force in the wake of weeks of protests and questions about his own handling of problems in the police force.

“My ultimate goal is re-establishing the trust between the public and the police department because that trust is essential for public safety.”

— Mayor Rahm Emanuel

The Police Accountability Task Force has two more public meetings scheduled for this month. A full list of recommendations for change is expected at the end of March. The Police Accountability Task Force was announced on December 1, 2015 with the following details …

The task force will be co-chaired by five respected leaders in criminal justice:

• Sergio Acosta is a partner at Hinshaw & Culbertson and a former federal prosecutor
• Joe Ferguson is Inspector General of the City of Chicago and a former federal prosecutor
• Hiram Grau is the former Director of the Illinois State Police and former Deputy Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department
• Lori Lightfoot is president of the Chicago Police Board, a partner at Mayer Brown and a former federal prosecutor
• Randolph Stone is a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, director of the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Project Clinic, and a former Cook County Public Defender

Former Massachusetts Governor and Chicago native Deval Patrick will serve as a senior advisor to the task force. Patrick also served as U.S. Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division under President Bill Clinton.

The task force is charged with:

• Improving independent oversight of police misconduct. In response to prior complaints concerning the investigation of police-involved shootings and other claims of serious police misconduct, the City Council created a new, independent, civilian-led agency in 2006 to conduct such investigations – the Independent Police Review Authority. The task force will examine if there are additional changes that should now be made to improve the quality, independence or timeliness of IPRA’s investigations of police-involved shootings and excessive force.

• Examining the best ways to ensure officers with repeated complaints are identified and evaluated appropriately. The CPD has previously adopted programs to identify and intervene with respect to officers who have been the subject of repeated complaints of excessive force or other misconduct. The task force will review what the CPD or IPRA can and should do to identify officers with problematic conduct, including racial bias, and what can be done to effectively intervene to change that conduct.

• Recommending best practices for release of videos of police-involved incidents. The City (including both CPD and IPRA) has a longstanding policy not to publicly release videos and other evidence relating to alleged police misconduct that is the subject of pending criminal and/or disciplinary investigations until such investigations are concluded so as not to jeopardize those investigations. The task force will consider if the City should change this policy, and if so, when and under what circumstances should such evidence be released to the public.

The task force will actively engage community, victims’ rights, law enforcement, youth, religious and elected leaders to ensure the recommendations are based on input from all parts of the city. Its recommendations will be presented to the Mayor and City Council by March 31, 2016.

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