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

Chicago News
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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — The Illinois Supreme Court ruled on a case Thursday regarding the destruction of police misconduct records.

The court upheld an appellate court ruling in favor of the City of Chicago and against the police union.

The ruling says the collective bargaining agreement is contrary to public policy regarding the destruction of public documents.

This case centered on the police contract, which states most officer complaints would be destroyed after five years. But the city was not doing that, and argued the courts required that the records be kept.

The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) says the ruling was greatly influenced by the national stage, pushing for police accountability.

“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 John Catanzara, Jr., Chicago FOP President.

Catanzara reacted to the court’s decision Thursday, which backs the city of Chicago in determining that the city is not required to destroy misconduct records of police officers, despite a clause in the union contract that states most of those files are to be destroyed after five years.

“This part of the contract was in place for the better part of 4 decades, now they’re making a decision on current environment. Current public policy. That’s not the way contractual rights are supposed to work. They’re basically bending to the will of current sentiment,” Catanzara said.

Illinois Supreme Court justices said it’s a violation of the local records act, which states local public records “shall not be mutilated, destroyed, transferred, removed or otherwise damaged or disposed of, in whole or in part, except as provided by law.”

The justices also determined “a court may not enforce a collective-bargaining agreement in a manner that is contrary to public policy.” 

It’s a fight that’s been in court for years, and one Mayor Lori Lightfoot saw personally during her time as president of the Chicago Police Board.

“It is the right thing to do. We must maintain these records and we must be transparent about what’s in them,” Lightfoot said.

President Catanzara said the files can still be requested through the FOIA Act, but can not be used when considering discipline.

However, they can be used in civil and criminal lawsuits.

The FOP is now considering appealing to the US Supreme Court.

Read the full Supreme Court ruling below:

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