Follow-Up: Review of the Chicago Police Department’s Management and Production of Records

The Public Safety section of the City of Chicago Office of Inspector General (OIG) has completed a follow-up to its June 2020 review of the Chicago Police Department’s (CPD or the Department) management and production of records. Based on CPD’s responses, OIG concludes that CPD has undertaken almost no corrective actions. As a result, CPD’s ability to meaningfully ensure that it is fulfilling all of its constitutional and legal obligations to produce all relevant records for criminal and civil litigation remains seriously impaired.

The purpose of OIG’s 2020 review was to determine how CPD managed and produced records responsive to criminal and civil litigation and to identify risk areas within those processes. OIG found that CPD could not ensure that it was producing all relevant records in its possession as required by constitutional and legal mandates. Specifically, CPD personnel responsible for relevant duties had no standardized or effective means to identify the totality of records responsive to any specific incident, individual, request, prosecution, or lawsuit. Various stakeholders—including prosecutors, defense attorneys, private attorneys, and judges—told OIG that CPD’s practices around record production were ineffective and lacked clarity.

Based on the findings of its 2020 review, OIG recommended that CPD undertake a comprehensive staffing and resource analysis for its records management and production functions; charge a single unit with responsibility for records management across the Department; and develop policies, procedures, and trainings to ensure its ability to produce all responsive records, to include developing a directive outlining responsibilities, developing trainings for relevant personnel, and ensuring all records productions are tracked. OIG also recommended that CPD audit and evaluate its records management and production processes to ensure that records are stored, managed, and produced in accordance with recommended policies, improve transparency with stakeholders, develop better search functions within its Citizen and Law Enforcement Analysis and Reporting (CLEAR) system, and develop and implement a comprehensive, automated records management system. Finally, OIG recommended that the development of a new system consider the management of older records, especially paper records, already in CPD’s possession. In its response to OIG’s recommendations, CPD described corrective actions it would take (summarized below in Follow-Up Results).

In June 2021, OIG inquired about the status of corrective actions taken by CPD in response to the 2020 recommendations. Based on CPD’s response, OIG concludes that CPD has implemented very few corrective measures. Although CPD has developed better search functions within its CLEAR system and has, on an ad hoc basis, converted some paper files into electronic formats, CPD has yet to implement most of the improvements to which it committed. Specifically, CPD has yet to conduct a comprehensive staffing and resource analysis, develop and implement standard operating procedures for the management and production of records, or develop necessary trainings. If fully and properly implemented, the improvements to which CPD committed would represent significant improvements in its operations and its ability to meet its legal and constitutional obligations. OIG urges the Department to fully realize its commitments and implement these corrective actions.