The Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA) will release an array of reports and other pieces of evidence from cases, including videos in some of these cases, said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the plans.
IPRA investigates any cases where a Chicago police officer fires a gun or stun gun that could hit someone or any time a person dies or is seriously injured in custody. The agency also investigates complaints and allegations of misconduct including excessive force or verbal abuse.
This upcoming release was first reported Friday by the Chicago Sun-Times, which quoted a memo sent by a city official who said that the evidence would include audio and video from dashboard cameras and body cameras along with dispatch calls and 911 calls.
A task force assembled by Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) recommended earlier this year that the city should speed up the release of recordings and reports from “police-involved incidents” such as shootings and deaths in custody.
This guidance came as the city continued to grapple with the aftermath of video footage showing Jason Van Dyke, a Chicago police officer, firing 16 shots at Laquan McDonald in October 2014. Van Dyke was charged with murder the same day the video was released in November 2015.
Last month, Emanuel’s task force released a blistering report that assailed the Chicago police and said the department’s own data backed up a feeling among residents that “the police have no regard for the sanctity of life when it comes to people of color.” Emanuel and Eddie Johnson, the police superintendent, have adopted a number of the task force’s recommendations, announcing a series of changes meant to increase investigations into misconduct and speed up internal inquiries.
A recent poll found that residents are worried about crime and uneasy with their police department. Dean Angelo, head of the Chicago Fraternal Order of Police, criticized the task force’s report as biased and said he believed the poll was skewed because it came out as the report was dominating the headlines.
In February, before the full task force report was released, the group recommended that recordings and reports from fatal police shootings and deaths in custody be released within two to three months. Emanuel said he would adopt this proposal and that IPRA would release videos at that speed. His office also said the authority would follow the policy for open investigations that preceded the new policy. (Earlier this month, Emanuel said the city planned to replace IPRA with a new civilian agency, one of the recommendations made in the report issued by his task force.)
A spokesman for Emanuel did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.
The release of this evidence is coming as Chicago police are preparing to fight violence through the summer, a period that typically sees a spike in bloodshed. The department plans to deploy scores of additional officers as the summer gets underway.
“As we look toward the summer months, Superintendent Johnson has made it very clear that the violence will not be tolerated — period,” the police department said in a statement this week. “The cause of the violence traces back decades, and everyone has a role to play in fixing it — police working with parents, judges, residents, clergy, community leaders, and others. Put simply, we need more values, fewer guns and stronger sentences against violence offenders.”