The Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) released hundreds of videos and audio recordings on a website meant to help lead the Chicago Police Department to become a more transparent unit.
Loaded on the site are 101 cases, that according to a press release from the IPRA showcase investigations that fall under “officer-involved shooting, officer-involved taser use that results in death of bodily harm and incidents of death of great bodily harm (other that self-inflicted harm) that occur in police custody.”
IPRA Chief Administrator Sharon Fairley said that they “are hopeful that implementing this new policy will take the city a step closer to building a police accountability system that cultivates trust from the community.”
Although, this is not how the entire community feels, as those in the videos — police and suspects — reportedly were not warned of about the release of these materials. This has caused backlash, especially from the police union, the Fraternal Order of Police Chicago Lodge 7, which has come out publically against the release.
The lodge said in a statement the day the videos were released that the lodge was only given 24-hour notice of the video release and called IPRA’s actions “irresponsible.”
They also added that the videos have little to do with the actual cases and sometimes gave no explanation as to what was occurring.
“It is sad when, with all the talk about transparency and communication, they decide to operate in this manner,” the lodge said in the statement.
When reached for comment by Chicago News, the lodge said they “had nothing more to offer.”
IPRA was founded in 2007 after Chicago’s city council voted to replace the Office of Professional Standards, an internal unit within the CPD tasked with investigating the police force, with IPRA staffed entirely by civilians.
The transparency of investigating the police was taken one step further when the Chicago Police Accountability Task Force recommended that all audio and video regarding a pending case against the police should be released to the public within 60 days of the incident. This policy was adopted in Feb. 2016 by Mayor Rahm Emanuel. Emanuel has praised the actions, but is not completely settled after the release.
“While I am pleased that Chicago is taking this important next step in our effort to be more transparent on these issues, we know there is a lot more work to do,” Emanuel said in a statement. “This new policy is one piece of a much larger effort to restore trust and repair relationships between law enforcement and our communities.”
On the other hand, the police department did not find issue with the release and does believe the video release helps with transparency for the department.
“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,” said Superintendent Eddie Johnson, in an email comment to Chicago News. “I have often said that CPD 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.”
By Jessica Lynk