Police Superintendent Jody P. Weis Explains Why He Would Not Release Police Officers Names

In todays Chicago Sun-Times, Superintendent Jody P. Weis wrote the following letter to the editor: 

Serving and protecting the residents of the City of Chicago is a priority for the Chicago Police Department. To do this effectively, the department must work with the communities that we serve, building mutual support and trust. With this in mind, I would like to address my recent decision to initially defy a court order dealing with the release of police officer names on a so-called "repeater" list.
My decision to initially defy Judge Gettleman's order was not an easy one. As superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, I was deeply concerned about the effect that disclosing this list might have on the well-being, safety and reputations of the vast majority of the men and women of the Chicago Police Department who work hard every day to serve our city.

As the chief law enforcement officer for the Chicago Police Department, I am committed to the rule of law and ensuring quality relations with the judiciary. I thought that it was extremely important, though, for the judge to have a complete understanding of the potentially serious consequences of this information becoming public and the effects that might have on the day-to-day operations of the Chicago Police Department. For the well- being of our officers, and for the citizens that they serve, I wanted to be sure that our arguments were heard by the court.

I also want everyone to recognize that the city actually provided the plaintiff with a redacted list. We felt that this information would allow the plaintiff to conduct the statistical analysis that they claimed was necessary, without individual names.

Identifying officers as "repeaters" based on the mere fact that an officer has received more than five complaints in a six-year period, even though the complaints may have been found to be false or their actions were found to be justified under the law, is not fair. On other occasions, the individual filing the complaint did not follow through and sign the affidavit as required by state law, which would have them state that their complaint is true. In those instances, the complaints are closed. Just last year, 62 percent of all complaints were closed due to the lack of the required affidavit.

Again, my intent was to ensure the safety and security of our officers and the city. I continue to disagree with the judge's ruling, but I have made my concerns known in the strongest way possible. As I said in the statement that I filed with the court, plaintiffs would use this list to wrongfully label thousands of Chicago police officers as repeat offenders. This is particularly unfair given that Chicago has an open complaint system, in which all complaints are registered regardless of merit, and the list would include all complaints, regardless of outcome.

Furthermore, if an officer is asked whether his/her name is on the repeater list in open court, they would be forced to answer "yes," without the ability to explain the circumstances. I believe that this will lead to unnecessary lawsuits against officers improperly labeled, and more importantly, to officers second-guessing their actions when we need them to act without hesitation. That is why, after very careful consideration, I initially refused to turn over this list to the court.

I am still concerned about the protections available to those officers who will be included on this list. I am concerned for their well-being, for their careers and for their futures if they appear in court.

The city will aggressively work to ensure that the protective order governing the production of this list remains in full force and effect.

As superintendent, I am committed to leading a department that will increase the respect and cooperation between our members and the public. We will strive for this in a way that is reasonable, well-intentioned and respectful of everyone.

Jody P. Weis,

superintendent of police,

Chicago 

Chicago Police Lieutenants Association President Speaks Out On The Release of Citizen Complaints

 

Here is an article by Robert Weisskopf, president of the Chicago Police Lieutenants Association:

Here in the United States of America, citizens have the right to be treated as innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. If there is an allegation of wrongdoing made against an individual and it is not sustained, then the there should be no presumption of guilt. I think this is obvious logic.

However, here in Chicago a federal court recently determined that a list of Chicago Police Department officers with five or more charges of excessive force must be released to an attorney. This list is being referred to as a list of officers guilty of excessive force.

Most of the allegations made against the officers on the list have not been sustained. As a matter of fact, very few of these allegations have even been sustained. All of these allegations have been investigated either by the former Office of Professional Standards or the new Independent Police Review Authority.

Here is the way it works: A hard-working police officer makes arrests. Many make 200 or more arrests a year. That is not uncommon. Unfortunately not all arrestees say, "Thank you, Officer. No hard feelings." To try to get a little vengeance against an officer, they file a complaint. I have heard that it is not uncommon for a defense attorney to recommend that a client immediately file an accusation of excessive force against the arresting officer to try to muddy the waters and help the case.

The Independent Police Review Authority is required to investigate any and all complaints of excessive force regardless of how outlandish and outrageous the complaints may be. It does its best to thoroughly investigate these allegations. It is not trying to cover up any wrongdoing. In the end the evidence only supports a sustained finding on a small fraction of these complaints.

Every good, hard-working police officer I have ever met has had allegations made against him or her. That is the life of a cop.

As president of the Chicago Police Lieutenants Association, it is my responsibility to help provide for the common welfare of Chicago Police lieutenants and the support of all measures for the protection and benefit of the public good. I fail to see any public good as the result of this court's action. In spite of this court's failure to support the guardians of their society, officers of the Chicago Police Department will leave the safety of their homes and show up for work today and tomorrow and as long as needed and step out to provide the service our city needs.

Police officers have long been held to a higher standard as well they should.

However, they should have the rights and protections that anyone else enjoys.