Stockbyte/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — Video, audio and other materials from 101 cases involving the Chicago police were made public Friday in what Independent Police Review Authority Chief Administrator Sharon Fairley called a “historic” release.
The materials released at noon E.T. by the city IPRA — which investigates police misconduct — mark the implementation of a new transparency policy.
Chicago has “struggled with so many questions about policing and policing accountability,” Fairley said at a news conference today.
“There’s a lack of trust,” she said, adding that “increased transparency is essential in rebuilding that trust.”
The released materials are only from pending cases, Fairley told reporters this morning before the release, adding that not all of the materials document police shootings.
The police accountability task force had recommended that Chicago adopt a transparency policy regarding the release of video content related to serious incidents involving Chicago police, according to Fairley and Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and since February, various agencies within the city worked together to prepare to implement it, Fairley said.
“Today, with the formal implementation of the new policy, we are acting boldly and thoughtfully,” Emanuel said in a statement. “The policy we are implementing today is a major step forward to promote transparency, and it makes us one of the leading cities in America to guarantee timely public access to this breadth of information involving sensitive police incidents.”
The policy applies to three kinds of officer-involved incidents: officer involved shootings; officer involved Taser use that results in death or serious harm; and incidents of people in police custody that result in death or serious harm, Fairley said.
Fairley qualified that the materials being released today “may not convey all of the facts” that are relevant to an officer’s conduct and do not represent “the status or outcome of any … underlying IRPA investigations.”
Some of the cases date back four years or more; and Fairley acknowledged today that “timeliness has plagued this agency.” After Friday’s “historic” release, evidence like this will be made public within 60 to 90 days of the incident, Fairley said.
Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said in a statement, “The release and availability of this evidence illustrates the challenges our officers face every day when they put their lives on the line to protect the city of Chicago. I have often said that CPD is only as effective as the faith and trust the community has in it and I believe that this will go a long way in promoting transparency.”
Emanuel called the new policy an “important next step in our effort to be more transparent,” adding that it’s “one piece of a much larger effort to restore trust and repair relationships between law enforcement and our communities.”
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