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Police Misconduct: Illinois Supreme Court Rules that Fraternal Order of Police cannot force Chicago to Destroy Disciplinary and Investigation Records

by | Jun 24, 2020 | Firm News

Police Misconduct Records.jpg

The Illinois Supreme Court recently issued a ruling in City of Chicago v. Fraternal Order of Police, 2020 IL 124831, holding that the City of Chicago cannot be forced to destroy records of police misconduct in accordance with a collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) with the Fraternal Order of Police (“FOP”).

The case was originally brought in arbitration by the FOP against the City of Chicago for failing to destroy records of police misconduct as required under the CBA.  The existing CBA mandates the destruction disciplinary and investigation records produced by the Civilian Office of Police Accountability and the Chicago Police Department’s Bureau of Internal Affairs five years after the incident giving rise to the record.  The arbiter eventually ruled for the FOP and directed the FOP and the City to meet and establish a procedure for destroying the records at issue.

The City then filed a petition in the circuit court to vacate the arbitration award on the grounds that it violated public policy favoring the retention of important public records.  The circuit court then granted the City’s petition and ruled that enforcement of the arbitration award would violate public policy.  The FOP then appealed, but the appellate court affirmed the trial court.

The Illinois Supreme Court then affirmed the appellate court, and held that under the Local Records Act (50 ILCS 205) and the State Records Act (5 ILCS 160/7), there is a “well-defined and dominant” public policy favoring retention of government records of police misconduct.  Further, the Court held that where the CBA and state law conflicted, state law must prevail.  As a result of the Court’s decision, the City of Chicago is no longer required to destroy records of police misconduct under its collective bargaining agreement with the Fraternal Order of Police.

RESOURCES

City of Chicago v. Fraternal Order of Police, 2020 IL 124831

Local Records Act (50 ILCS 205)

State Records Act (5 ILCS 160)