Last month, The Lucy Parsons Labs and local partner organizations began annotating the Department of Justice’s January 2017 report on the actions and practices of the Chicago Police Department. The DOJ’s report, which summarized the results of a 13-month investigation of the department, concluded that “CPD engages in a pattern or practice of force in violation of the Constitution.” Included in the report were descriptions of routine racism, police kidnapping people and dropping them off in rival gang neighborhoods, and a widespread departmental pattern of failing to investigate police misconduct. As part of the investigation, representatives from the Department of Justice visited a CPD training class on the use of force, and wrote of the department’s shortcomings:
“As just one example, a class we observed on deadly force involved officers’ viewing a video made roughly 35 years ago, prior to key Supreme Court decisions that altered the standards used to evaluate the reasonableness of use of force. The tactics depicted in the video were clearly out of date with commonly accepted police standards of today. Following the video, the instructor spoke for approximately thirty minutes, but did not give detailed information on justified versus unjustified use of deadly force or the standard of objective reasonableness — all essential topics for deadly force training. The training itself was inconsistent with CPD’s force policies, further undermining its utility in teaching recruits their obligations under Department policy and constitutional law.”
So naturally we FOIAed the Chicago Police Deparment for the video. Curiously, CPD’s FOIA officer claimed the video was exempt from disclosure because of the Federal Copyright Act of 1976. The video, which was made in 1982, was available for purchase elsewhere on the Internet, however, and after some conversation in our Slack Channel, someone was able to locate the video on the Internet Archive, too. We had begun discussions about suing for the video under Illinois FOIA law because we believe it falls under the “Fair Use” exemption of the Copyright Act but because it is readily available for download, we dropped this prospect. We hope you review the video for yourself.