OIG Public Safety Section Recommendation to Revise Disclosure Practice Accepted by COPA

The City of Chicago Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) Public Safety (PS) section has issued a report recommending that the Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) revisit its practice on releasing reports while a disciplinary case is still under review by the Superintendent, in order to better assure the balancing of interests of transparency and procedural fairness.

Following media reporting concerning details within COPA’s investigative report on Officer Robert L. Rialmo’s fatal shooting of Quintonio LeGrier and Bettie Jones, OIG determined that COPA’s release practices for investigative findings and recommendations under consideration by the Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department (CPD) created the appearance of an accountability system susceptible to external pressure. While the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) ensures transparency in government records, Section 7(1)(d)(i) of FOIA, exempts the release of records under the deliberations of public officials prior to reaching a final decision.

PS recommended that COPA revisit its release practices to comply with the time allowed under the Municipal Code. PS also recommended COPA adhere to its FOIA obligations in a manner that respects both local and state law, ensures the integrity and procedural fairness of the discipline process, and grows the public’s trust. COPA concurred with PS’ recommendations.

“Public transparency is critical to holding law enforcement accountable and maintaining legitimacy with the public. The harmonization of local and state law obligations will ensure transparency and public accountability while also preserving the integrity of the City of Chicago’s investigative and disciplinary processes,” said Deputy Inspector General for Public Safety Joseph Lipari.

The full report can be found here.

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The mission of the City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) is to root out corruption, waste, and mismanagement, while promoting effectiveness and efficiency in City government. OIG is a watchdog for the taxpayers of the City, and has jurisdiction to conduct investigations and audits into most aspects of City government. If you see corruption, fraud, waste or dishonest practices of any kind, let us hear from you. For more information, visit our website at: http://www.igchicago.org