Serious allegations of police misconduct are not fully investigated without a sworn affidavit. The affidavit requirement creates a tremendous disincentive to come forward with legitimate claims and keeps hidden serious police misconduct that should be investigated.
HB 3202/SB 1661 removes the requirement in Illiinois law that anyone filing a complaint about police misconduct must sign a sworn affidavit or other legal documentation. It also limits home rule authority to ensure that future Chicago police union contracts do not contain provisions requiring complaints about police misconduct be supported by an affidavit.
There are understandable reasons why victims of police misconduct may not submit an affidavit. Individuals may fear retaliation and being targeted by Chicago Police Department (CPD) officers; they may be unable to meet the logistical hurdles, including taking time off of work on a week day to sit for a lengthy in-person interview; or they may have lost faith in police accountability altogether and do not want to participate in that very system.
While officers should not be subject to false claims, nearly half of the complaints about misconduct in Chicago are not investigated because they lack an affidavit. In most instances, investigations are not conducted unless a complainant meets an investigator in person and submits a sworn affidavit statement. A 2015 report showed that between 2011 and 2014 IPRA closed 58% of its total complaints for lack of an affidavit.
Chicago closes about 60% of all complaints because the complainant did not sign an affidavit. Removing the requirement for a sworn affidavit in state law is recommended by: the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division’s 2016 Investigation of the Chicago Police Department, The City of Chicago’s Police Accountability Taskforce, and the City of Chicago Resolution R2017-125, calling on Mayor Rahm Emanuel to publicly endorse reforms to police union collective bargaining agreements.