Team of Chicago Journalists Sue Police for Withholding Gun Violence ‘Heat List’ Algorithm

From: Invisible Institute

 

Chicago Sun-Times, Jamie Kalven and other reporters join new Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against CPD

 

CHICAGO, IL – Journalists across the city have filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Chicago Police Department for refusing to release public records. In the new lawsuit, the Chicago Sun-Times, along with journalists Jamie Kalven, Brandon Smith, and George Joseph, are suing CPD for withholding information about an algorithm that determines what citizens end up on the Strategic Subject List, known as a “heat list.” This list is a controversial computerized prediction of people allegedly likely to be a victim or perpetrator of gun violence.

“We have learned too many times that a lack of transparency into the Chicago Police Department leads to unconstitutional policing and violations of civil rights,” said Matthew Topic of Loevy & Loevy, the civil rights law firm handling the case. “While novel forms of policing like this aren’t necessarily bad, it’s crucial that the public know how these lists are generated and whether they result in discrimination and civil rights violations.”

One of the plaintiffs, Smith, was the journalist whose high-profile Freedom of Information Act lawsuit led to the release of the Laquan McDonald shooting video in November 2015. In addition, Kalven was the plaintiff in the watershed 2014 decision of the Illinois appellate court, Kalven v. City of Chicago, which established that closed investigations of police misconduct are public information.

This latest case comes on the heels of another lawsuit filed by Kalven, who is suing CPD for withholding investigation records from the Inspector General’s probe of the department’s handling of McDonald’s shooting death in 2014. The Inspector General’s exhaustive investigation details the operation of Chicago Police’s code of silence, what the lawsuit calls “the machinery of institutional denial that has allowed police abuse of members of the public to go unchecked.”

The Invisible Institute is a nonprofit Chicago-based journalism production company that works to enhance the capacity of civil society to hold public institutions accountable. Toward that end, we develop strategies to expand and operationalize transparency. We seek to make visible perspectives too often excluded from public discourse. And we develop social interventions designed to leverage necessary reforms. Among the tools we employ are human rights documentation, investigative reporting, civil rights litigation, the curating of public information, and the orchestration of difficult public conversations.

Loevy & Loevy is one of the nation’s largest civil rights law firms, and over the past decade has won more multi-million dollar jury verdicts than any other civil rights law firm in the entire country. In November 2015, Loevy & Loevy successfully obtained the release of the dashcam video of McDonald’s shooting death at the hands of Chicago police.