CRIM­I­NAL AL­LE­GA­TIONS VS. COPS IN COOK COUNTY CAN BE FILED ON­LINE

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY MATTHEW HEN­DRICK­SON, STAFF RE­PORTER mhen­drick­son@sun­times.com | @MHen­drick­sonCST

State’s At­tor­ney Kim Foxx Thurs­day in­tro­duced a new on­line form the pub­lic can use to re­port po­ten­tial crim­i­nal mis­con­duct by po­lice of­fi­cers in Cook County.

Foxx, cit­ing an in­crease in al­le­ga­tions of crim­i­nal mis­con­duct against law en­force­ment of­fi­cials, said the form, avail­able on the of­fice’s web­site, was cre­ated in re­sponse to a “grow­ing frus­tra­tion that in a lot of these cases, we [pros­e­cu­tors] aren’t no­ti­fied by [in­ves­ti­gat­ing author­i­ties] un­til late in the pro­cess.”

This way cit­i­zens can re­port the al­le­ga­tions di­rectly to pros­e­cu­tors, Foxx said in an in­ter­view with the Chicago Sun-Times.

In the past, the state’s at­tor­ney’s of­fice hasn’t been no­ti­fied of al­le­ga­tions of crim­i­nal po­lice mis­con­duct un­til weeks or months af­ter they have been re­ported to agen­cies like the Civil­ian Of­fice of Po­lice Ac­count­abil­ity, which in­ves­ti­gates com­plaints against Chicago po­lice of­fi­cers.

In the case of of­fi­cer-in­volved shoot­ings, the state’s at­tor­ney’s of­fice tends “to be in­volved very early on, but in some of these other in­stances, we may not get the in­for­ma­tion for some time,” the top pros­e­cu­tor said.

Some other in­stances Foxx re­ferred to in­clude al­le­ga­tions of ex­ces­sive force, of­fi­cers so­lic­it­ing or ac­cept­ing bribes, in­tim­i­da­tion and reck­less driv­ing.

In­di­vid­u­als can use the new on­line Po­lice Crim­i­nal Mis­con­duct Com­plaint Form to re­port po­ten­tial po­lice mis­con­duct that oc­curs any­where in Cook County, as well as up­load po­ten­tial ev­i­dence, like photos and videos.

The link to the form can be found af­ter click­ing on the Law En­force­ment Ac­count­abil­ity Unit tab cur­rently at the top of the home­page of the state’s at­tor­ney’s web­site.

Foxx spokes­woman Tan­dra Si­mon­ton said the of­fice is work­ing on mak­ing the web­site more ac­ces­si­ble as part of a longterm re­design project that would po­ten­tially make the form eas­ier to lo­cate.

Of­fi­cials in the state’s at­tor­ney’s of­fice’s Law En­force­ment Ac­count­abil­ity Divi­sion — pre­vi­ously known as the Pub­lic In­tegrity Unit — will look over the com­plaints and de­ter­mine whether the mat­ter should be re­ferred to an in­ves­tiga­tive agency.

A com­plainant will get an email in­form­ing them of the unit’s de­ci­sion and, if mer­ited, will be pro­vided con­tact in­for­ma­tion for the agency in­ves­ti­gat­ing the com­plaint. If an in­ves­ti­gat­ing body is look­ing into the case, pros­e­cu­tors will track the mat­ter to gauge when there is enough ev­i­dence to pos­si­bly bring charges.

Com­plainants will not be al­lowed to sub­mit al­le­ga­tions against of­fi­cers anony­mously, Foxx said.

“Po­lice of­fi­cers, like any­one else, have the right to con­front those who ac­cuse them,” she said. “If some­one be­lieves they have been the vic­tim of a crime, any crime, we would need to know who they are and their will­ing­ness to co­op­er­ate.”

Foxx said the cre­ation of the form should not be in­ter­preted as her of­fice hav­ing lost faith in COPA and other in­ves­tiga­tive agen­cies’ abil­ity to re­view com­plaints against po­lice.

“This should be in­ter­preted as a way for us to meet our man­date of look­ing for pos­si­ble crim­i­nal charges aris­ing out of these types of in­ci­dents,” Foxx said.

COPA, for ex­am­ple, looks at ad­min­is­tra­tive is­sues, Foxx said, while the state’s at­tor­ney’s of­fice would be look­ing to po­ten­tially bring crim­i­nal charges against the of­fi­cers if they be­lieve the al­le­ga­tions can be proven in court.

“I be­lieve this is a way to ef­fi­ciently try to do both in real time,” she said.

Mis­con­duct that does not “arise to the level of crim­i­nal be­hav­ior,” such as rude­ness, sex­ual ha­rass­ment, dis­crim­i­na­tion and drink­ing on duty should still be di­rected to COPA or to the in­ves­ti­gat­ing po­lice depart­ment, the state’s at­tor­ney said.

ASH­LEE REZIN GAR­CIA/SUN-TIMES FILE

Cook County State’s At­tor­ney Kim Foxx says cit­i­zens can re­port po­ten­tial crim­i­nal al­le­ga­tions against po­lice of­fi­cers di­rectly to pros­e­cu­tors.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.