Shaw: Police Brutality Can Be Traced to Police Secrecy in Illinois

04/06/2015 01:54 pm ET | Updated Jun 06, 2015

With a national conversation surrounding concerns about police brutality taking center stage, the Better Government Association's Andy Shaw examined where such issues come from when they happen in Illinois.

Shaw writes:

Police brutality leaves two victims in its violent wake: Physically abused suspects, who obviously suffer the most painful injuries; and taxpayers, who take a financial beating when government is ordered to compensate targets of excessive force.

Consider: It's cost Chicago taxpayers more than $500 million to settle brutality lawsuits over the last decade, a BGA investigation revealed last year.

We also found that suburban Cook County spent $42 million to settle similar cases in the past five years.

Relatively few cops, including former Chicago Police Cmdr. Jon Burge and his infamous torture crew, are responsible for most of the egregious behavior that sparked the lawsuits.

Still, some Illinois law enforcement officials want to purge those painful memories by destroying documents that can provide valuable information about patterns of police misconduct, or uncovered evidence.

(Read the rest of Shaw's thoughts on police, secrecy and police records at Reboot Illinois.)

In other municipal news, February's jobs report from the Illinois Department of Employment Security and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that statewide unemployment is down 0.1 percent to 6 percent. Broken down, though, only nine of the state's 14 metro areas saw job increases. Areas that added jobs include the Chicago area and the Springfield area, while the Peoria and Bloomington areas saw jobs leave.

(See the full breakdown by city and job numbers at Reboot Illinois.)