By JEFFREY BISHKU-AYKUL
A local reporter has wrested an agreement by the city to make investigations into complaints against Chicago Police Department public.
On July 11, the city said it would not pursue to appeal a March decision by the Illinois Appellate Court in Kalven v. City of Chicago to make public two documents detailing abuse by city police officers requested by reporter Jamie Kalven of the non-profit Invisible Institute, 6100 S. Blackstone Ave. Three days later Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the city would share upon request investigations into complaints of alleged police misconduct.
For almost five years, Kalven has sought to obtain the names of city police officers with the most complaints, as well as investigations into allegations of misconduct by five specific officers. He sought the information after reporting for years on police abuse at the now-demolished Stateway Gardens housing project, which was located in Bronzeville.
“The inquiry went from particular incidents that people told me about and that I investigated in public housing to trying to understand how the system worked — or more to the point, didn’t work,” he said.
The city’s decision comes on the heels of a series of face-to-face meetings between Kalven and a team of attorneys, including University of Chicago Law School Professor Craig Futterman, who worked with Kalven on the agreement, and Steve Patton, Corporation Counsel for the City of Chicago.
Neither complainant identities nor requests the city deems “burdensome” will be available, but investigations into complaints from previous years will be. Several thousand complaints have been filed about police misconduct annually, according to a statement by the city.
“I think there are going to be things that come into visibility now, that happened in past years but were never addressed. So it’s going to be really diagnostically useful in figuring out what’s broken,” Kalven said.
“But I think the other thing that this level of transparency does,” he added, “is that it creates a very powerful incentive for the city to do good investigations.”
Kalven said he will likely receive the documents he has requested within the next few weeks, and that he plans to share them with the public.