Aldermen Want More Oversight Following File-Shredding Incident
Members of the Springfield City Council are looking for a way to prevent further incidents like the one in April in which police records were apparently shredded or deleted after they were requested by a local reporter through the Freedom of Information Act.
Tuesday night aldermen passed out of committee an ordinance that would require all changes to union contracts be approved by the Council and signed by the Mayor. Such contractual changes are known as memorandums of understanding, or MOUs.
22-year-old Calvin Christian and his attorneys believe that the MOU signed by the chief of police and the president of the police union in April was executed to speed up destruction of documents subject to a FOIA request Christian had previously filed.
Springfield attorneys Don Craven and John Myers filed suit in Sangamon County court earlier this month, claiming that the City violated state records retention law by destroying 30 police internal affairs a full year ahead of schedule.
On May 9th, Chicago attorney Louis Meyer also filed suit on behalf of Christian - this time in federal court. According to the complaint, Christian believes he has been "systematically harassed" by members of the city's street crimes unit for the past three years.
Meyer argues that officers have been "maliciously and retaliating against Christian since he won a 2010 lawsuit and gained access to files detailing how officers have been disciplined. According to the attorney, since then the officers have together schemed to issue tickets "without probable cause, and made out false and incomplete reports" of traffic stops.
Officers have been accused of unreasonable seizure, excessive force and civil conspiracy.
Mayor Houston's office has yet to comment on the federal lawsuit. Houston this week is vacationing in Florida.