A Victory for Police Transparency

The Better Government Association applauds Thursday’s Illinois Supreme Court ruling that preserves public records of police misconduct complaints.

The court upheld an appellate ruling against the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, which went to court to stop the city from releasing the records of hundreds of thousands of complaints against police officers.

The FOP said its contract required the city to destroy the records after five years. The Supreme Court said the contract is at odds with the Local Records Act, which governs the proper retention or destruction of public records.

News organizations including the Invisible Institute, the Chicago Tribune and the Sun-Times, have been seeking complaint records dating back to 1967. 

The BGA joined the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and other First Amendment advocates in an amicus brief, asking the state’s high court to uphold the appellate court ruling.

“There is no question that people want their police departments to be accountable, and that is only possible with access to information like this,” said Matt Topic, the BGA’s outside general counsel.

The Illinois Supreme Court ruling is shared below.