Material From 101 Open Chicago Police Cases Made Public in 'Historic' Release

IRPA says "increased transparency is essential" to rebuilding trust in Chicago.

The release of the materials — at noon Eastern time by the city IPRA, which investigates police misconduct — marks the implementation of a new transparency policy.

Chicago has "struggled with so many questions about policing," Fairley said at a news conference today. "There's a lack of trust ... Increased transparency is essential in rebuilding that trust."

The released materials are only from pending cases, she told reporters this morning before the release, adding that not all 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 city agencies worked together to prepare to implement it, she 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 stun gun use that results in death or serious harm, and incidents of people in police custody that result in death or serious harm, Fairley said.

She 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." From now on, related documentation will be made public within 60 to 90 days of the incident, she 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 [the Chicago Police Department] 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."