Monday, January 13, 2020

Commentary on Second City Cop - "Why Do These Files Exist?"

SCC's Response to the recent Cook County Circuit Court ruling mandating the city to produce nearly 5 decades of police misconduct files that CPD officers say shouldn't exist

The answer:

Generations of CPD brass, FOP leadership, COPA / OPS, and CPD Records Division chain - of - command dropped the ball.

Another answer from the legal side of this:

There is no state or federal law tied-in with FOIA, and no current or past provision in Illinois FOIA mandating citizens, or anyone else who is legally in possession of records they obtained via the FOIA process to destroy their copy of those records.

What that means:

Even IF there were strict enforcement of records retention laws / policies / regulations / FOP contractual mandates, the records may STILL exist somewhere. That means records could be posted online as part of someone's research or as part of a commentary on those records, even as part of a news piece. Remember, free press isn't limited to multi-million dollar corporate news companies. Due to decades of federal and state court rulings, everyone is the press under the 1st Amendment.

Here's an example of FOIA at work vs. FOP contractual agreements and CPD policies:

Any Officer / Detective / Sgt, or someone else up the chain either creates an official document, or is the subject of official documentation of ANY kind. That document has a destruction date once it's complete. Whether by law, by dept policies, or FOP contractual obligation. Before that document reaches its destruction date, it is perfectly responsive to FOIA. There could possibly be TENS, HUNDREDS, THOUSANDS, or even scores more people holding perfectly legal copies of that document. Now that documents are mostly electronic or are easily digitized, there honestly is no such thing as a "destroyed" document.

Any I.T. expert will tell you that once something exists in digital form, it's forever. Deleting it doesn't make it go away. Overwriting that digital space won't make it go away, either.

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