Are Arlington Heights and Other Nearby Suburbs Violating Illinois Statute on Arrest Records and Reports?

CARDINAL NEWS has been slacking a little bit. Here’s the explanation. Thanks to some neighbors providing tips, and our own pro-active “patrolling” of the community, and active informal connections with a network of other news professionals; it’s been obvious that the Village of Arlington Heights has not been adequately informing the residents of Arlington Heights regarding property crimes, burglaries, auto theft attempts, shots fired calls, and some assaults and even a case of self defense that involved a death at a hotel. Additionally, lack of information about arrests in criminal cases apparently contradicts requirements of the Local Records Act (50 ILCS 205/) regarding Local Government in the Illinois Complied Statutes.




Some of these cases have not been published by CARDINAL NEWS because …

1. there was an interest (by CARDINAL NEWS) in discovering whether the information would ever be released by the Village of Arlington Heights on a press release or on official social media;

2. there was an interest in discovering whether any other local news media would discover and publish the information; and

3. the difficulty in obtaining the information was not worth the effort, or obtaining the information was impossible, or the information was provided in confidence of non-disclosure.

The lack of outputted information contradictory to Illinois Statutes may be a Village of Arlington Heights problem, not an Arlington Heights Police Department problem.

The suspected results of the discovery? The inadequate public safety information provided to the public is NOT a problem at the level of hard-working police patrol officers and possibly not always at the level of the police chief, but at the administrative level and the village board level because these are the individuals that are ultimately responsible to assure that the system works. There are also problems that might involve micromanagement over the police department by village administrators. The problem also apparently is connected to shortcomings of a new information technology system that was activated approximately late March 2021. In other words, the problem is administrative and systemic and doesn’t hinge on any non-administrative employee, especially not police officers.

Arrest records and reports required from police departments no later than 72 hours after arrests by Illinois Statute …

When an individual is arrested, the following information must be made available to the news media for inspection and copying:

Information that identifies the individual, including the name, age, address, and photograph, when and if available.

Information detailing any charges relating to the arrest.

The time and location of the arrest.

The name of the investigating or arresting law enforcement agency.

If the individual is incarcerated, the amount of any bail or bond.

If the individual is incarcerated, the time and date that the individual was received, discharged, or transferred from the arresting agency’s custody.

This public information problem goes back a few years, but recently has taken a downward trend in the past few months. The Arlington Heights Police Department was once a clear leader of the northwest suburbs in providing public information, and even improved when Police Chief Nick Pecora took over leadership following Police Chief Gerald Mourning’s “premature” retirement … and when an unconfirmed tip indicated that the passcard access to unlock Mourning’s office and his access to headquarters were changed (secured) two months before his scheduled retirement. The Village Manager’s office would only state that the village does not comment on personnel matters in response to an inquiry about the earlier-than-scheduled retirement and the former police chief’s blocked access to the police station. High profile crimes and public safety incidents continue to show improved public information output under the leadership of Arlington Heights Police Chief Pecora, compared to actions under Police Chief Mourning’s leadership.

So what does this downward trend in public information mean to the public information output to the citizens of Arlington Heights and other suburbs? In Arlington Heights, for example, there has not been a regular property crime report in Citizen Observer since February 15, 2021 — even though there have been burglaries, criminal damage cases, theft cases and other cases since that date. This abrupt stoppage of information did not accompany any announcement regarding why there would be no more regular Citizen Observer posts.




The problem could be related to information technology problems hampering the efficient output of information for the news media from the new IT (Information Technology) system. Apparently, and initially, the Village of Arlington Heights could not output any data from their information system for automatic sharing. Currently all arrest data is hampered by incomplete information, and the Arlington Heights Police Department is NOT providing all information required by the Illinois Statutes Local Government Local Records Act (50 ILCS 205). The CARDINAL NEWS understanding is that other nearby communities that operate within the Northwest Central Dispatch System (NWCDS) are facing similar issues, but this has not been confirmed with any other police department. Additionally, it has not been confirmed that issues are in any way the responsibility of NWCDS.

In Arlington Heights, some of these issues have occurred and been ongoing long before the change to new information technology. For example, booking photos of arrestees have not been provided except in the most extreme violent cases, such as homicide and sexual assault. According to the Illinois Statutes, “Information that identifies the individual, including the name, age, address, and photograph, when and if available” and the “information required by this Section must be made available to the news media for inspection and copying as soon as practicable, but in no event shall the time period exceed 72 hours from the arrest [emphasis added].” The full statute (50 ILCS 205/3b) is available below and referred to the Illinois General Assembly website here.




Why Is This Important?

The discovered issues have generated some conclusions and raised some questions.

1.) Informed citizens with specific information (not general public service announcements or PSAs) have better capability to avoid risks, protect their lives, protect their personal safety, and protect their property.

2.) Informed police officers have better capability to avoid risks, protect their lives, protect their personal safety and their property; AND protect our lives and our property, and help us avoid risks.

3.) Informed citizens and the information that they acquire helps reinforce police officer awareness, especially when police officers are new hires, are on a new shift, or serving a new beat.

4.) Informed also means timely — as in near real-time. Some important public safety information is needed real-time or near real-time. Some important information requires investigation and attention to security, privacy and investigation integrity before release to the public; therefore, effective public information from the police department is actually a two-phase process. An efficient police department sorts out the public information that is needed real-time from the information that requires investigation, and doesn’t over-generalize urgent public safety information … or neglect to output public safety information to the community altogether because of difficulty sorting these factors out.

5.) The discovered lack of public information output capability raises suspicion regarding how well internal communications function within the police department. Do our police officers have fast access to information that uses State of the Art User Interface (UI). Or does the information system involve a cumbersome, difficult to use UI that looks like it was designed before the mid-1980s, and hampers information input and access? Information flow in the police department should operate like a competitive high tech Silicon Valley company, not a stodgy bureaucracy.

6.) Are our leaders and administrators that are connected with police departments and Northwest Central Dispatch System even qualified to choose State of the Art User Interface and Human Machine Interface? Are administrators qualified to understand and exert their requirements to information technology vendors? Or are administrators faced with few good vendor options? Are police departments and ultimately the citizens of communities being taken advantage of by police-industrial complex vendors with little competition, and therefore no drive for excellence? Are those vendors over-concerned with their own profits and stockholders, and under-concerned with being responsive, qualified, and caring for their customers? Northwest Central Dispatch System (NWCDS our 9-1-1 Center) is where the gateway of real time input from citizens and output to police officers occurs, and where records are usually generated. IT choices made at NWCDS are as important as IT choices made in individual police departments.

7.) Lack of efficient and rapid information flow puts unnecessary psychological and physical stress on police officers, increases the chance of human error (which can be deadly in police work), unnecessarily increases the effort of inputting and reporting accurate details, increases the chance of labor-management conflict, increases the risk of corruption, decreases morale and energy, and increases turnover. Thankfully, the character of individual police officers consistently appears to overcome shortcomings in information flow as demonstrated by interactions with police officers, and ongoing citizen satisfaction with Arlington Heights police officers.

8.) Informed citizens can pressure village leadership into providing the best information technology tools for our police officers and police departments, and the best public safety information output.




Following is the full excerpt of the Illinois Revised Statutes from the LOCAL GOVERNMENT (50 ILCS 205/) Local Records Act to which police departments in the northwest suburbs appear to fall short in compliance.

Excerpt Illinois General Assembly

(50 ILCS 205/3b)
(Text of Section before amendment by P.A. 101-652)

Sec. 3b. Arrest records and reports.

(a) When an individual is arrested, the following information must be made available to the news media for inspection and copying:

(1) Information that identifies the individual, including the name, age, address, and photograph, when and if available.

(2) Information detailing any charges relating to the arrest.

(3) The time and location of the arrest.

(4) The name of the investigating or arresting law enforcement agency.

(5) If the individual is incarcerated, the amount of any bail or bond.

(6) If the individual is incarcerated, the time and date that the individual was received, discharged, or transferred from the arresting agency’s custody.

(b) The information required by this Section must be made available to the news media for inspection and copying as soon as practicable, but in no event shall the time period exceed 72 hours from the arrest. The information described in paragraphs (3), (4), (5), and (6) of subsection (a), however, may be withheld if it is determined that disclosure would:

(1) interfere with pending or actually and reasonably contemplated law enforcement proceedings conducted by any law enforcement or correctional agency;

(2) endanger the life or physical safety of law enforcement or correctional personnel or any other person; or

(3) compromise the security of any correctional facility.

(c) For the purposes of this Section the term “news media” means personnel of a newspaper or other periodical issued at regular intervals whether in print or electronic format, a news service whether in print or electronic format, a radio station, a television station, a television network, a community antenna television service, or a person or corporation engaged in making news reels or other motion picture news for public showing.

(d) Each law enforcement or correctional agency may charge fees for arrest records, but in no instance may the fee exceed the actual cost of copying and reproduction. The fees may not include the cost of the labor used to reproduce the arrest record.

(e) The provisions of this Section do not supersede the confidentiality provisions for arrest records of the Juvenile Court Act of 1987.

(f) All information, including photographs, made available under this Section is subject to the provisions of Section 2QQQ of the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. (Source: P.A. 98-555, eff. 1-1-14; 99-363, eff. 1-1-16.)

(Text of Section after amendment by P.A. 101-652)

Sec. 3b. Arrest records and reports.

(a) When an individual is arrested, the following information must be made available to the news media for inspection and copying:

(1) Information that identifies the individual, including the name, age, address, and photograph, when and if available.

(2) Information detailing any charges relating to the arrest.

(3) The time and location of the arrest.

(4) The name of the investigating or arresting law enforcement agency.

(5) If the individual is incarcerated, the conditions of pretrial release.

(6) If the individual is incarcerated, the time and date that the individual was received, discharged, or transferred from the arresting agency’s custody.

(b) The information required by this Section must be made available to the news media for inspection and copying as soon as practicable, but in no event shall the time period exceed 72 hours from the arrest. The information described in paragraphs (3), (4), (5), and (6) of subsection (a), however, may be withheld if it is determined that disclosure would:

(1) interfere with pending or actually and reasonably contemplated law enforcement proceedings conducted by any law enforcement or correctional agency;

(2) endanger the life or physical safety of law enforcement or correctional personnel or any other person; or

(3) compromise the security of any correctional facility.

(c) For the purposes of this Section the term “news media” means personnel of a newspaper or other periodical issued at regular intervals whether in print or electronic format, a news service whether in print or electronic format, a radio station, a television station, a television network, a community antenna television service, or a person or corporation engaged in making news reels or other motion picture news for public showing.

(d) Each law enforcement or correctional agency may charge fees for arrest records, but in no instance may the fee exceed the actual cost of copying and reproduction. The fees may not include the cost of the labor used to reproduce the arrest record.

(e) The provisions of this Section do not supersede the confidentiality provisions for arrest records of the Juvenile Court Act of 1987.

(f) All information, including photographs, made available under this Section is subject to the provisions of Section 2QQQ of the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act. (Source: P.A. 101-652, eff. 1-1-23.)




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