The Illinois General Assembly passed several important police reforms during the 2015 legislative session. CRS and other advocates entered this year with the goal of building on these reforms and passing more comprehensive reforms in 2016, but the legislature did not take action on several important police accountability bills.
SB 2758, sponsored by Senator Jacqueline Collins, would remove the requirement for a sworn affidavit when citizens file complaints of police misconduct.
The sworn affidavit requirement results in 40-60% of cases filed with the Independent Police Review Authority never being investigated. It is an unnecessary barrier that discourages complaints and hinders police accountability. The Mayor’s Taskforce on Police Accountability recommended that it be removed from the next contract with the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) but state law currently mandates that it be required for all citizen complaints of law enforcement. The City and FOP will negotiate a new contract in 2017, so it is imperative that this change in state law is made as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the legislature did not take any action on SB 2758 during the spring session.
HB 6266, sponsored by Representative La Shawn Ford, and SB 2233, sponsored by Senator Patricia Van Pelt, would prohibit the destruction of all police misconduct records in the City of Chicago for at least 50 years.
This bill is incredibly important because decades worth of police misconduct records in the City of Chicago are currently at risk of being destroyed. Litigation between the Chicago FOP and the City of Chicago could be ruled on in the coming months and, if the ruling goes as advocates and experts believe it will, the City will have to destroy misconduct records spanning decades. This could significantly hinder the Department of Justice’s investigation and will also continue to build on the distrust the community has of law enforcement. HB 6266 passed out of the House Judiciary Committee but was not called for a vote on the House floor.
The Laquan McDonald case has generated necessary conversations around police reform and thrust Chicago into a national spotlight. Conversations without action, however, are unacceptable. While the Department of Justice conducts its review, Chicagoans continue to wait on the Mayor and Police Department to enact reforms, but the Illinois state legislature also has role in taking action on police accountability. SB 2758, HB 6266 and SB 2233 are important steps needed to ensure real, comprehensive police accountability in Chicago and the State of Illinois.
We are committed to continue working on these necessary reforms during the fall veto session and into next year's legislative session.