FOP To Top Officials: Cease Improper COPA investigations Of Officer Involved Shootings
In the wake of an opinion letter from the executive director of a key state board declaring that the city’s civilian oversight board does not have authority to investigate officer-involved shootings, attorneys for the FOP have notified top Illinois officials that the agency is in violation of the law and threatened legal action.
In letters to the head of the agency, Sydney Roberts, the Illinois Attorney General, Lisa Madigan, and the city’s Corporation Counsel, Ed Siskel, FOP attorneys stated that the city’s civilian police oversight agency, COPA, is in violation of the Police and Community Relations Improvement Act and the Illinois Police Training Act by allowing COPA personnel to investigate officer involved shootings.
“Despite this clear notification that COPA is in violation of the Police and Community Relations Improvement Act…the Illinois Attorney General’s Office has done nothing to enforce the provisions requiring that a lead investigator for Officer-involved death investigations be a Police Officer. At this point, we believe we have exhausted every effort to resolve this matter without additional litigation. Accordingly, if you do not respond to this letter immediately, we will be forced to proceed with any and all legal options,” FOP attorney Catherine Chapman wrote to Attorney General Lisa Madigan
The FOP attorneys based their objections in an October 28 letter from Brent Fischer, Executive Director of the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board (ILETSB), who asserted that Chicago’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA) is, in his opinion, without statutory authority to investigate police-related shootings. Fischer’s position, outlined in his October 28, 2018 letter to FOP President Kevin Graham, takes the identical position expressed by the FOP.
“Because COPA employees are not police officers of the Chicago Police Department and are not primarily responsible for the prevention and detection of crime, they are not ‘law enforcement officers’ and are therefore ineligible to serve as lead investigators in death and homicide investigations,” Fischer wrote.
Graham and FOP Field Representative Bob Bartlett had addressed the ILETSB at the organization’s quarterly meeting in September, outlining their objection to the COPA investigators investigating homicides.