Sun-Times file photo

Suit: Chicago’s destruction of 911 recordings violates state law

SHARE Suit: Chicago’s destruction of 911 recordings violates state law
SHARE Suit: Chicago’s destruction of 911 recordings violates state law

A lawsuit filed Tuesday by a group of Chicago-area civil rights lawyers alleges the city’s policy ofdestroying 911 call recordings after 30 days violates state law.

The suit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court by the Chicago Civil Rights Project, claims the city deletes the recordings “for administrative convenience,” unless there is a notice to preserve specific recordings.

Bill McCaffrey, a spokesman for the city’s law department,declined to comment on the suit but said in an email that the city “has taken significant steps to improve transparency and access to public records during the past year, including increasing the time to store audio recordings from 30 to 90 days.”

Workers at the Office of Emergency Management and Communication can certify the destruction of 911 recordings if they don’t contain relevant evidence in pending or anticipated cases, but the suit claims recordings are often destroyed “without conducting any affirmative investigation.”

Backup copies of recordings are stored, but aren’t searchable by the Chicago Civil Rights Project and other attorneys who use them in criminal defense and exoneration cases, the suit says.

The city’s system dates back to a time when calls were stored on tape and overwritten to cut costs. A digital upgrade for up to 20 years of storage would cost the city less than $10,000, the suit says.

The lawsuit, which alleges the city is in violation of the Local Records Act, seeks a court order to halt the destruction of 911 calls and transfer all backup recordings to the city’s primary system, making them available to the public.

The Latest
The shooting happened at the Warwick Allerton Hotel, officials said.
Democrats across the nation are hoping to use the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion that could signal the overturning of Roe v. Wade to bring voters to the polls. That’s a trickier strategy for Valencia in the secretary of state’s race.
We need more alternative activities for these young people, summer jobs, outreach workers downtown to engage with youth and more.
With first-year general manager Ryan Poles almost starting from scratch, the Bears likely will be challenged to develop Justin Fields — and keep him healthy — while losing games in 2022. It won’t be easy with this roster, but it can be done.
The teen was standing on the sidewalk in the 5200 block of West Ferdinand Street about 5:35 p.m. when he was shot in the chest, police said.