In June 2019, MacArthur Justice Center argued on behalf of Rob Warden (Executive Director Emeritus of the Center on Wrongful Convictions) that the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires the Chicago Police Department (CPD) to provide photographs of police officers for use by the media. The CPD had denied Rob Warden’s February 2016 request for photographs of nine officers, claiming that “these photos can be used for retaliatory and harassing purposes against the officer himself or against his family.” In August 2019, the judge rejected the CPD’s claim and issued an order granting Rob Warden’s motion for summary judgment and directing the CPD to provide the requested photographs of the officers.
During the hearing, Locke Bowman (Executive Director of the MacArthur Justice Center) framed the issue as one of public accountability and argued that access to their photographs is crucial for protecting journalistic endeavors that hold the government accountable.
The purpose of my FOIA request was to further my reporting activities, and to ensure that citizens of Chicago received important and accurate information they are entitled to in order to hold CPD and CPD officers accountable for their actions. This doesn't just affect me. The denial of my request would undermine the ability of news organizations in general to do their jobs.