Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Blue Voice Vows To Take Action In Wake Of New IPRA Scandal

Why Won't FOP President Dean Angelo Take Action? 

Another scandal is rocking the agency that oversees police misconduct in Chicago.

According to the Chicago Tribune, a lawsuit was filed by attorneys representing a Chicago Police Officer against the Independent Police Review Authority (IPRA), claiming an investigator at the agency was providing a civilian with confidential information about that officer, Emily Hock.

According to the article, Hock was engaged in an ongoing child custody battle with her son’s father, Kristopher Weiss. The battle was so heated, Hock said she was afraid for her safety. In the course of their legal disputes, Hock couldn’t figure out how Weiss knew so many private details about her daily life, particularly details about her job. Then she discovered the answer. From the Tribune:

But Hock, who filed a lawsuit on Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court, said she was stunned in October to uncover emails pointing to the alleged source of Weiss' inside information — an investigator with the civilian agency charged with investigating Chicago police misconduct.

Hock's lawsuit against an IPRA investigator and the city of Chicago alleged intentional infliction of emotional distress, privacy violations and failure by the city to properly supervise the investigator.

"I was completely almost taken off my feet," Hock, an eight-year department veteran now on medical leave, said in an interview in her lawyer's offices. "I couldn't believe that an agency that has this much power and this much access to police officers' confidential records ... was providing them to somebody who I was scared for my life from."

Chicago Police Commander Glenn Evans

The lawsuit comes in the wake of another high-profile lawsuit against IPRA by Chicago Police Commander Glenn Evans, first covered by Blue Voice candidate forsecond vice president and writer, Martin Preib.

Attorneys for Evans filed a federal lawsuit against IPRA and other defendants last year after Evans was acquitted in a high-profile criminal trial.  

Evans had been accused of misconduct in the course of an arrest.  But from the beginning of the criminal case against him, the prosecutor’s charges began unraveling, revealing a dark picture of the efforts to indict Evans. At the beginning of Evans’ trial, for example, prosecutors dropped a bombshell in the courtroom, announcing to the judge that the city’s Inspector General had been investigating IPRA and their conduct in the case against Evans. This IG investigation uncovered evidence that allegedly bolstered Evans’ claims that he was being framed by the agency. 

"This is a process I have tried to avoid," Evans said in a previous interview. "But I feel obligated to proceed based on the ferocity and relentlessness of the attacks against me."

Evans’ lawsuit also cast a dark shadow on the media coverage of his case, particularly the reporting of WBEZ journalist Chip Mitchell.

Despite the evidence of misconduct at IPRA in the Evans case, FOP President Dean Angelo remained silent and inactive, even as FOP members were being stripped in one dubious investigation after another. Officers have been grumbling that investigations against them by the agency are frivolous and deny their due process rights.

Angelo was approached several times by Blue Voice candidate Preib about obtaining the evidence in the IG investigation of IPRA that arose in the Evans case, but Angelo never responded.

The latest accusations by Hock bolster the claims in the Evans’ lawsuit of an agency out of control.

Here is a question all FOP members should consider: If IPRA will go after a commander the way they did Evans, what will they do to a blue shirt?

FOP members also wonder: Why didn’t the FOP provide this evidence to the Department of Justice in the course of their investigation of the department?

Blue Voice candidate for president, Kevin Graham, vowed to take a different approach.

“We’ll collect all the evidence of misconduct against IPRA and if we think there is a basis for an investigation by prosecutors, we’ll ask for it,” Graham said. “We’re not going to have our members treated like this.”