The Chicago agency that investigates police misconduct cases has released videos, audio recordings, and other material Friday from about 100 incidents, the latest move in the city’s effort to regain public trust in its beleaguered police force.
Releasing records related to open investigations is nearly unprecedented in a city where the police department for decades had a reputation for secrecy. City Hall waited until last November, following a judge’s order, to make public video from more than a year earlier showing a white police officer fatally shooting a black 17-year-old.
The Independent Police Review Authority would not reveal which cases would be included in the batch of material being released. There was no indication that any of the footage would be as explosive as the October 2014 dashcam video showing the death of Laquan McDonald, who was shot 16 times. Officer Jason Van Dyke was charged with first-degree murder, and a Cook County judge said Thursday he would appoint a special prosecutor to handle the case.
IPRA said not all of the videos being released Friday show police shootings or other incidents. Some show officers responding to the scenes or people running away.
Since the McDonald video was released, the city has released information including police reports of the McDonald video and thousands of emails between Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office and the department and IPRA.
The head of the Chicago police union says its members oppose the release of videos because they don’t tell the whole story of what occurred.
Dean Angelo is president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Chicago Lodge #7. He says some incidents occurred up to five years ago, and in some cases the officers involved still haven’t been interviewed by investigators. He said some of the videos are only partial clips of what happened, and don’t include audio.
Angelo says the agency is trying to deflect attention from the poor job it does investigating cases.
Craig Futterman, a University of Chicago law school professor who played a key role in forcing the city to release the McDonald video, said it’s too early to know whether the latest release of material is a sign of progress.
“Decades of secrecy and institutional denial should give us reason for skepticism about this, but I look forward to seeing whether this will really be a significant step in the direction of transparency,” Futterman said. “This really has the potential to mark a new day in Chicago.”
However, he said if the documents don’t include key information such as case numbers, locations and the names of officers involved “this will look like nothing more than a PR move in response to the latest political crisis.”
In some cities, such as Seattle, nearly all police video is posted online almost immediately. But elsewhere around the country, the public often must wait months or years to gain access to the videos. In some places, the video is never released.
Story by the Associated Press