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Illinois Supreme Court rejects request by Chicago police union to destroy police misconduct records

By | Rachel Brooks

Staff | Telegraph Local 

See | The New African Living Standard

Above, outside the Illinois Supreme Court in Springfield, Illinois. Image created in 2012 by Alanscottwalker, CC By SA 3.0 license.

The Illinois Supreme Court rejects a request made by the Chicago fraternal order of police or “FOP” union to destroy police misconduct records. This was reported by WGN-TV news on June 18. The Illinois Supreme Court upheld an appellate court ruling in favor of the City of Chicago over the police union. 

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The ruling states that the “collective bargaining agreement” is contrary to the public policy regarding public documents.The case centered on the police contract. The police contract states that most officer complaints would be destroyed after five years. The city was not upholding this contract. The City argued that the court required the records to be kept. 

As news of the court ruling broke, Fraternal Order of Police president John Cantazara Jr. has made a note of how much the ruling was pushed by the theater of U.S. politics today. Particularly, the nationwide cry for police accountability following the civil rights protests of 2020.

“I believe it is a bad decision that not only has disastrous effect on not only our union but also every other union in this state specifically,” said Cantazara, as he was quoted by WGN-TV. 

As the FOP loses the battle in The Illinois Supreme Court, the police union plans to potentially take their complaint all the way to the United States Supreme Court. 

WGN-TV obtained the Il Supreme Court Ruling’s text via Scribd. The ruling gives the judge’s opinion and the background of the case in more detail. The text is also available directly from the Court of Illinois.gov

“This appeal presents a single issue: whether a provision in a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that, contrary to the provisions of the Local Records Act (50 ILCS 205/1 et seq. (West 2016)), requires the destruction of disciplinary files after a fixed period of time violates public policy. The issue arises in the context of an action brought by the Fraternal Order of Police, Chicago Lodge No. 7 (FOP), against the City of Chicago (City) for failing to destroy records of police misconduct as required under the CBA. The matter went to arbitration, where the arbitrator held that the CBA should prevail and directed the parties to come to an agreement regarding the destruction of the documents. The City sought to overturn the arbitration award in the Cook County circuit court and was successful on public policy grounds. The appellate court affirmed, and this court allowed the FOP’s petition for leave to appeal. Ill. S. Ct. R. 315 (eff. July 1, 2018)…”says the opinion of the Illinois Supreme Court ruling. 

The Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot took to her Twitter to discuss the decision. 

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“Since my days leading the Police Accountability Task Force four years ago, I have been fighting to end the FOP contract’s requirement of destroying such records.Today’s ruling underscores why our police unions need to step up to work with the City as a partner — not a roadblock — on accountability and transparency reforms so that we can create a stronger Police Department and a safer Chicago for all.

We look forward to building on these reforms in our ongoing negotiations with the FOP,” said Lightfoot in a series of tweets that were posted on June 18. 

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