FOIA: Police Board Superintendent Search Records

SuperintendentThe position of Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department is one of the most important positions the Mayor of Chicago gets to fill. The process for who conducts the search for a new superintendent and how the final candidate is selected is clearly detailed in law but all too often Mayors have found a way to get around the process.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel went so far to offer the superintendent job to one of the candidates selected by the Chicago Police Board before rescinding the offer to pick insider Eddie Johnson to be the new superintendent. The City Council then even went along for the ride by changing the law after the pick was already made to allow Emanuel to pick Johnson to be the new superintendent.

We launched our new podcast a just a few weeks ago and our first episode discusses the media coverage of the superintendent selection process and David Brown’s history in Dallas. You can find it here.

Sadly this circumstances around the selection of former Dallas Police Department Chief David Brown to lead the department by Mayor Lightfoot has the hint of similar inside dealing as has been done in Chicago for decades. Media reports allege that Lightfoot was provided the list a week before it was made public so she could conduct interviews of each of the three candidates prior to the public learning who actually made the short list. This of course allowed the City Council to then rush to confirm Brown before the public and the media had the time to examine his background in Dallas.

CJP refuses to let these tactics stay hidden from the public. This is our first volley in our efforts to examine what exactly was the inter-dealing between the Mayor’s Office and the Chicago Police Board if any and if there was how that impacted the final selection of David Brown.

This FOIA was filed after work hours on April 28, 2020.

FOIA Content:

To:                   Chicago Police Board

Subject:           Documents relating to the Police Superintendent Search

In accordance with Definitions and Instructions below and the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, 5 ILCS 140 et seq, I request that You provide the following public records: 

FOIA A

  1. All documents, materials, records, electronic records and correspondence in any form submitted to You, the Chicago Police Board, or to any vendor retained by You or the Board regarding submissions for the 2019-2020 open position of Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department (i.e. the “Search”).

FOIA B

  • To the extent not covered by FOIA A above: All documents, materials, records, electronic records and correspondence submitted by the three candidates the Board named as finalists and submitted to the Mayor’s Office for consideration following the Search:
  1. Kristen Ziman
    1. David Brown
    1. Ernest Cato

FOIA C

  • All documents, materials, records, electronic records and correspondence in any form regarding or reflecting the April 2020 special public meeting held by the Chicago Police Board.

FOIA D.

  • To the extent not covered by FOIA A above: All Communications, including but not limited to electronic communications and summaries of same (email, text, instant messaging of any kind, voicemail, etc.) to or from You, the Board or any member of the Board regarding the Search. 

Please exclude from your response only communications that are specifically protected from disclosure by law (for example the application submissions of candidates other than the three finalists named above).  We are specifically asking for communications that are not related to any one particular candidate or candidate(s).

Without limiting the scope of this FOIA request in any way, the response to this request should include at a minimum all of the following:

  1. Electronic communications to or from the Board regarding Ziman, Brown, or Cato;
    1. Electronic communications to or from the Mayor’s Office or anyone from the Mayor’s Office regarding Ziman, Brown, or Cato;
    1. Electronic communications to or from the Chicago Police Department regarding Ziman, Brown, or Cato;
    1. Electronic communications to or from amongst Board members regarding Ziman, Brown, or Cato; and/or
    1. communications of any kind to or from anyone related to:
      1. the Search in general; and/or
      1. the press, publicity or public or private comments about the Search; and/or
      1. the press, publicity or public or private comments about the Board’s list of final candidates received; and/or
      1. the April 2020 special public meeting held by the Chicago Police Board.

FOIA E

  • All records created by You or the Board regarding the Search that were not part of the records received as part of a submission from a potential candidate.

FOIA F

  • All records received by You or the Board regarding the Search that were not part of the records received as part of a submission from a potential candidate.

FOIA G

  • All calendar appointments for the Board or on the Board’s public or non-public calendars regarding the Search.

FOIA H

  • All calendar appointments or entries by or for any member of the Board regarding the Search.

FOIA I

  1. All emails, text messages, instant messages, electronic communications and/or voicemail messages (or transcriptions of same) to or from any member of the Board regarding the Search, or the April 2020 special public meeting held by the Chicago Police Board.

FOIA J

  • All emails, text messages, instant messages, electronic communications and/or voicemail messages (or transcriptions of same) between any member of the Board and the Mayor or the Mayor’s Office regarding the Search, or the April 2020 special public meeting held by the Chicago Police Board.

FOIA K

  • Copies of all FOIA requests you received regarding the Search, and your responses to those FOIA requests.

FOIA L

  • A list of all types or categories of records currently under Your control relating in any way to the Search, as provided in 5 ILCS 140/5.

FOIA M

  • A description of the manner in which public records regarding the Search stored by means of electronic data processing may be obtained from You (in a form comprehensible to persons lacking knowledge of computer language or printout format), as provided in 5 ILCS 140/5.

FOIA N

  • Records sufficient to show Your efforts to locate and produce the records requested in FOIAs A-M above. This should include:
  • Where you searched for responsive Records and Documents.
  • Who searched for responsive Records and Documents.
  • Who was requested to produce responsive Records and Documents.
  • The identity of any Records and Documents that were located but not produced for any reason.

DEFINITIONS
“Any,” “all,” “any/all,” “any or all,” “any and all,” “and,” “or,” and “and/or” are always to be interpreted inclusively to the greatest extent legally permitted.

“Document” and/or “Documents” means any documents or electronically stored information of any kind—including writings, drawings, graphs, charts, photographs, video recordings, sound recordings, images, databases, and other data or data compilations—stored in any medium from which information can be obtained either directly or, if necessary, after translation by the responding party into a reasonably usable form.

The “Board” means the Chicago Police Board.

The “Search” means the 2019-2020 Chicago Police Board’s search for candidates for the new Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department, to replace former Supt. Eddie Johnson, and specifically includes any submissions for the open position of Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department.  This also includes the April 2020 special public meeting held by the Chicago Police Board.

“You” or “Your” means the Chicago Police Board, and any or all attorneys, employees, officers, directors, members, bureaus, offices, agents, divisions or subdivisions of same.

INSTRUCTIONS
If the agency withholds any document or information pertinent to the requests made herein, please identify the document or information in as much detail as is possible, and detail in specific language why each document or piece of information is being withheld.

If any information requested herein is withheld on the basis of a claim of privilege or other protection as material prepared in anticipation of litigation or trial, then that claim shall be made expressly in a writing that describes the nature of the Documents, Communications, or Things not produced or disclosed in a manner that will enable us to assess the applicability of the privilege or protection. With regard to each claim of privilege or protection, the following information should be provided in the response or the objection:

(a) the type of Document, e.g., letter or memorandum;

(b) general subject matter of the Document;

(c) the date of the Document;

(d) such other information as is sufficient to identify the Document for a subpoena duces tecum, including, where appropriate, the author, addressee, and any other recipient of the Document, and, where not apparent, the relationship of the author, addressee, and any other recipient to each other; and

(e) the nature of the privilege or protection;

(f) if applicable, the litigation or trial of which he document was created in anticipation.

If any Document identified herein has been lost, discarded, or destroyed, each such Document should be identified as completely as possible, including as to each such Document, its date, general nature (e.g., letter, memorandum, telegram, telex, photograph, computer printout), subject matter, each author or originator, each person indicated as an addressee or copy recipient, and its former custodian(s). In addition, as to each such Document, the following information shall be supplied:

(a) date of disposal, loss, or destruction;

(b) manner of disposal, loss, or destruction;

(c) reason for disposal or destruction, or any explanation of loss;

(d) persons authorizing the disposal or destruction;

(e) persons having knowledge of the disposal, destruction, or loss; and

(f) persons who destroyed, lost, or disposed or the Document or Thing.

I look forward to hearing from you in writing within five working days, as required by the Act 5 ILCS 140(3).  Please direct all questions or responses to this FOIA request to this email address by responding to this email. I can be reached at tsiska@chicagojustice.org

Updates

5/21: Dear Mr. Caproni:

Chicago Justice is entitled to production of the full range of records we requested.  In the interest of allowing the Police Board to produce at least some of the records to which the public is entitled, I accepted your offer to work with me to narrow the requests to what the Police Board would produce.  But your email below is not helpful in this regard, because you commit to nothing.

Specifically, you propose as follows:

  • Identify which of the 14 parts are priority requests, such that the Police Board has an opportunity to individually respond those priority requests;

 As you know, there is no limit under Illinois FOIA on the number of requests we may serve.  We could have served them all separately, in different emails, one after another. Instead, in the interest of lowering the burden on you, we served them all at once so that you could collect the documents at the same time – and because the requests (to some extent) overlap.  All of the requests are “priority,” because the public has a right to know as much as possible about the Board’s process to search for a new Superintendent.  Moreover, your suggestion does nothing to indicate what the Police Board is proposing to produce in compromise.  Chicago Justice is not prepared to negotiate against itself.  If there are some of the requests that you would answer, please tell us what they are so we can discuss them.  Otherwise, we must insist (as FOIA permits) that you treat each request as a separate and independent request for information, to be treated as FOIA requests and to produce the requested documents.

  • Shorten the time frame to be covered by each request; and

 The timeframe covered is already very short. The search for a new Commissioner lasted only a few months, from December 2, 2019 until April 2020. For what time frame is the Police Board willing to produce responsive documents?

  • For requests for electronic communications, specify parameters for conducting a search for records, including: (1) the name of the owner of each account you request be searched; (2) key words you request to search for; and (3) the time frame to be searched.  

 Chicago Justice does not, and cannot, know the names of the owners of the accounts that likely have the responsive information.  As a non-party, Chicago Justice also does not have a complete list of keywords.  However, in the interest of cooperation, Chicago Justice believes at least the following accounts and keywords should be searched in response to our FOIA request for records:

Accounts:

  • Max Caproni
  • Any staff of the Chicago Police Board
  • Matthew Crowl
  • Any staff to Matthew Crowl
  • Michael Eaddy
  • Any staff to Michael Eaddy
  • Steve Flores
  • Any staff to Steve Flores
  • Ghian Foreman
  • Any staff to Ghian Foreman
  • John P. O’Malley Jr.
  • Any staff to John P. O’Malley Jr.
  • Rhoda Davis Sweeney
  • Any staff to Rhoda Davis Sweeney
  • Paula Wolff
  • Any staff to Paula Wolff
  • Andrea Zopp
  • Any staff to Andrea Zopp
  • Jorge Montes
  • Any staff to Jorge Monte

Keywords:

  • Ziman
  • Brown + David  
  • Brown + Dave
  • Cato
  • Superintendent w/in 2 words of Search
  • special public meeting
  • FOIA w/in 2 words of Search
  • Candidates  
  • Replacing Eddie Johnson
  • Eddie Johnson + replacement
  • Johnson + replacement
  • Search + superintendent 
  • Search + Johnson

 We look forward to your prompt response.

5/20: Tracy,

One possible solution is to reduce your request to manageable proportions in the following ways:

  1. Identify which of the 14 parts are priority requests, such that the Police Board has an opportunity to individually respond those priority requests;
  2. Shorten the time frame to be covered by each request; and
  3. For requests for electronic communications, specify parameters for conducting a search for records, including: (1) the name of the owner of each account you request be searched; (2) key words you request to search for; and (3) the time frame to be searched.  

Max

5/14: Max,

What are you purposing as a solution?
Tracy

May 5th: Dear Executive Director Siska, 

I write in response to your Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request (re-printed below). 

The FOIA provides in 5 ILCS 140/3(g) that requests for all records falling within a category shall be complied with unless compliance with the request would be unduly burdensome for the complying body and there is no way to narrow the request and the burden on the public body outweighs the public interest in the information. Your request calls for all records falling within a category, and compliance with your 14-part request as written would be unduly burdensome for the Police Board in any set of circumstances, but particularly now.  The Police Board has only two staff members, both of whom are working from home due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Complying with your request would unduly burden the operations of the Police Board for the following reasons:

  • We would not be able to conduct the Board’s business for the several workdays we would need to devote to conducting a thorough search for responsive records created over a five-month time period (the Superintendent search ran from November 2019 through March 2020) and then reviewing responsive records to determine if any exemptions to disclosure apply; and
  • Many of the requested records are stored in a location requiring gathering and access which is not available during this time of limited operations and staff–requiring a staff member to go into the Police Board office during the COVID-19 outbreak and while Governor Pritzker’s stay-at-home order is in effect will expose the staff member and others to life-threatening health risks.

For these reasons, complying with your request as written would be a burden on the Police Board that outweighs the public interest in the information. I am therefore extending to you an opportunity to confer with me in an attempt to reduce your request to manageable proportions.  

In addition, throughout your request you seek electronic records and correspondence.  Parameters that would assist the Board in conducting an email search include: (1) the e-mail address or name of the owner of each account you request be searched; (2) key words you request to search for; and (3) the time frame to be searched. I will take no further action or send you any further correspondence unless and until you contact me. If I do not hear from you in writing within fourteen (14) calendar days of the date of this message, your current FOIA request will be considered denied pursuant to 5 ILCS 140/3(g). In the event that I do not hear from you and your current FOIA request is therefore considered denied, you will have a right to have the denial reviewed by the Public Access Counselor (PAC) at the Office of the Illinois Attorney General, 500 S. 2nd Street, Springfield, Illinois 62706, (877) 299-3642. You will also have the right to seek judicial review of your denial under 5 ILCS 140/11 of the FOIA. Sincerely, Max A. Caproni Executive Director Chicago Police Board

Author: Tracy Siska

Tracy Siska is the Founder and Executive Director of the Chicago Justice Project.

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