Chicago police misconduct records dating back to 1967 must be released to the public under open records laws, according to an Illinois appellate court ruling.
The appeals court vacated a temporary injunction secured by the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), which sought to prevent the records' release.
The temporary injunction came after an appeals court in 2014 ruled in favor of making the records public. That ruling allowed the Invisible Institute, a journalism production company on Chicago's South Side, to obtain 11 years worth of city data. With the information, the Invisible Institute launched the Citizens Police Data Project, an interactive database of police misconduct.
But a temporary injunction secured by the FOP last year blocked access to the full collection of police misconduct complaints dating back to 1967. The police union argued that releasing the records would go against the FOP's contract with the city.
The city of Chicago appealed the temporary injunction, and the Invisible Institute filed an amicus brief in support of the city's position.
"The court has confirmed that citizens have a right to know about police abuse, past and present. This information belongs to them. Now it's time for the Illinois legislature to act by embodying this principle in state law," the Invisible Institute's founder Jamie Kalven said of the Friday ruling. "We need legislation that protects police disciplinary records against future threats of destruction. At Invisible Institute, we look forward to the day when we can incorporate the information at issue into the Citizens Police Data Project and make it available to the public."