Criminal Justice

Plaintiff Seeks Cop Complaints

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The city of Chicago is waging a court battle to keep secret the names of more than 600 police officers who have been subject to multiple citizen complaints.

Journalist Jamie Kalven wants the names, the New York Times reports. They are on a list that first came to light in a lawsuit against five police officers who patrolled a public housing complex. A federal judge ordered its release, but it remains sealed pending an appeal.

The list names officers who received more than 10 complaints in five years. It shows that four officers with the most complaints–more than 50 each–received little discipline. One of the four was suspended, two others were reprimanded, and one received no discipline.

City corporation counsel Mara Georges said it would be unfair to name the officers because they were not parties to the litigation and had no chance to defend themselves.

Craig Futterman is the lawyer who obtained the list in his lawsuit against the city housing authority, which settled for $150,000.

“As the data show, the Chicago Police Department has proven it is utterly incapable of policing itself,” he told the newspaper. “Behind each scandal there are all these warning signs that are ignored.”

Kalven wrote about the list in a 2006 editorial in the Chicago Sun-Times. The statistics “reflect a state of affairs in which officers with criminal tendencies enjoy all but complete impunity,” Kalven said.

Kalven writes about public housing residents and police abuse on his Web site. A Chicago Reader profile says he is a crusader as well as a journalist. “Jamie Kalven calls himself a reporter,” the headline reads. ” But don’t insult him by calling him objective.”

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