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Archive for February, 2017

Sworn Affidavit Rule Hinders Police Misconduct Investigations

Posted on: February 27th, 2017 by Chicago Police Misconduct Attorney

The Department of Justice recently investigated the use of excessive force by the Chicago Police Department. Last month, they released a report about their findings and one of the major issues they came across was the sworn affidavit rule.

The state law requires any citizen who makes an allegation of police misconduct against any CPD officer sign a sworn affidavit.  The Fraternal Order of Police pushed for this law to be put into place to lower the number of false allegations against the police, but it has deterred people from even coming forward with allegations.

People who experience police misconduct might be less willing to come forward and sign an affidavit because they fear retaliation.  Others already believe the system is corrupt and their voice won’t be heard so they simply do not report misconduct at all.  And those that have been charged with a crime or are actively suing the police follow their lawyer’s orders and refrain from providing verified statements before their trial.

There is a way to override this law, but the DOJ found that the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) along with the Bureau of Internal Affairs (BIA) are not actively pursuing this route. In fact, IPRA closed about 618 complaints per year since 2011 because there was no sworn affidavit. Similarly, BIA closed about 537 complaints per year.

Both of these agencies are in charge of investigating police misconduct, but the fact that they are closing almost half of the complaints against the force because there is no sworn affidavit is extremely concerning.  They no longer actively seek out complainants or push for overrides of the law.  In the last five years, overrides were only used 17 times, and 11 of those instances were in 2016.

IPRA is being reworked as the Civilian Office of Police Accountability later this year and the head, Sharon Fairley, is working to make things better. We hope the new agency can recognize the sworn affidavit rule as a real roadblock and work to better hold the police force accountable.

Police Delay Reporting Officer-Involved Shootings, According To IPRA Report

Posted on: February 24th, 2017 by Chicago Police Misconduct Attorney

Whenever there is a police officer involved in a shooting, the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) has to be notified – no questions asked. IPRA recently released a review that states Chicago police routinely delay reporting shootings where an officer is involved.

After looking at 24 shootings related to Chicago police, IPRA found there was an average of 34 minutes between the incident and calling it in. In one suicide incident, the police didn’t notify the agency until six hours later.

So why is this an issue? The minutes right after an incident takes place are most critical to an investigation as that is when critical evidence is gathered and steps are taken to make sure everything goes according to proper procedure. Acting quickly also keeps the scene from being compromised.

Even more concerning from the report was that two incidents were not reported to IPRA at all, as well as having delayed communications with the Cook County medical examiner’s office, firefighters, and paramedics. In some of the incidents, the medical examiner wasn’t able to gather any useful information to help the investigation because too much time had passed.

Mayor Emanuel and other authorities say they are working to correct all the issues with the Chicago Police Department and investigating agencies. IPRA is going to be replaced later this year by the Citizens Office of Police Accountability and will have a larger budget and better-trained investigators.  But other than this change, it is unclear what else authorities in Chicago will do to fix these major problems highlighted by both the Department of Justice and IPRA.

What is clear is that the citizens of Chicago are fed up with this type of behavior from the Police Department. Here at Romanucci & Blandin, we’re dedicated to making sure victims receive the justice and transparency they deserve. If you feel like the police haven’t done their part or you’re a victim of police misconduct, please do not hesitate to call us.