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Illinois Supreme Court Could Order Chicago To Destroy Old Complaints Against Police by WBEZ Chicago

An opinion is expected Thursday in an effort by Chicago’s police union to force city to destroy all complaint records against officers that are more than five years old.

Charlie Neibergall/Associated Press

In the midst of an almost deafening national and local outcry over police abuses, the Illinois Supreme Court may order the city of Chicago to destroy all records of complaints against police officers that are more than five years old, potentially undermining attempts to identify problematic officers

A decision is scheduled to be issued Thursday in a legal challenge brought by the union representing Chicago police officers, asserting that their contract with the city requires the destruction of old complaints.

University of Chicago Law Professor Craig Futterman said the case is fundamentally about a question being asked all over the country, whether police unions and city governments should be able to bargain away the rights of the public to have effective oversight of police officers.

“If the Fraternal Order of Police has its way, hundreds of thousands of Chicago police misconduct records will go up in smoke like a great bonfire, destroying the very information that’s needed to identify and stop police officers who’ve been engaged in patterns of abuse,” Futterman said. “And this reality should be particularly unthinkable and appalling to everyone in this moment where we have people in Chicago and around the world raising their voices to affirm that Black Lives Matter. … What’s at stake is the reality that the very records that we need right now to … prevent more black pain and deaths at the hands of the police could disappear.”