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,