FOIA: COPA Type of Records

COPAThis request to COPA (Civilian Office of Police Accountability) in one in a series of FOIA requests aimed at getting a better understanding of the data and records COPA maintains and in what format they maintain it. There is section within the FOIA law that requires public bodies to maintain a list of the types of records they maintain. This should allow the public to better understand the overall operations of these agencies.  To date the responses we have received has all be really poorly produced without any mention of any records related to the digital communications of their staff. We hope our response from COPA is better than what we have received to this point.

CJP will be producing original content based on the responses we get from the 9 criminal justice agencies. These agencies include: the Office or Emergency Management & Communications, Chicago Police Department, Cook County State’s Attorney, Cook County Public Defender, IL State Police, IL Dept. of Corrections, COPA, Chicago Police Board.

COPA serves to centralize the intake of all complaints against Chicago Police officers of regardles of whether those complaints come from within the department or from the public. By statute COPA is required to investigate certain categories of those complaints with the rest being sent over to the Chicago Police Department’s Internal Affairs Division. Many of COPA’s records and the preceding versions of that agency are publicly avaialble via this website.

FOIA Content

This request was submitted via email on 5/14/20.

In accordance with the Illinois Freedom of Information Act, 5 ILCS 140, I request that your office provide the following public records: 

1.     A list of all types or categories of records currently under the Civilian Office of Police Accountability’s control, as provided in 5 ILCS 140/5. 

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


If the agency believes they are going to withhold 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 subject to 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; and

(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. 

If any Document or Thing identified herein has been lost, discarded, or destroyed, each such Document or Thing should be identified as completely as possible, including as to each such Document or Thing, 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 or Thing, 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 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 by responding to this email


5/29 – Dear Mr. Siska,

Attached is your FOIA request for 20-060-144 

Please let me know if you have any questions or issues.  If we do not hear from you, COPA will consider this request complete.


Jason Szczepanski

Final Report Letter: Final Response Letter

COPA Documents: COPA_Documents

Paralegal II

Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA)

1615 W. Chicago Avenue, 4th Floor

Chicago, Illinois 60622

(312) 746-3609

5/23: Jason,

Thanks for your reply. We are happy to provide an extension. As for the phone call we would rather communicate via email if at all possible so that we can build a record of our communications that can easily be turned over to the courts if and when it becomes necessary for judicial review of any forthcoming denial of our request.
Thanks for your understanding.  

5/21: Dear Mr. Siska,

I am issuing a 5-day extension letter for your FOIA request submitted to COPA on May 15, 2020.

I also left you a voicemail regarding a few questions about your request.

If you can call me back that would be greatly appreciated.  My personal cell #708-275-9520.


Jason Szczepanski

Paralegal II

Civilian Office of Police Accountability (COPA)

1615 W. Chicago Avenue, 4th Floor

Chicago, Illinois 60622

(312) 746-3609

Here is a PDF of the letter we received: Extension Letter_COPA_CJP_Record-Types

Tracy has nearly two decades of experience researching and working within criminal justice systems. When Tracy began pursuing a career dedicate to system reform, he found that no single organization existed to promote evidence-based discussions among law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve. Recognizing that citizens in Chicago deserved the right to demand transparency in their criminal justice system, Siska established the Chicago Justice Project. He received his Master of Arts degree in Criminal Justice at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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