The Murder Accountability Project has filed a lawsuit to compel the Illinois State Police to provide homicide clearance counts and other important murder data it ceased reporting to the U.S. Department of Justice and to the public more than 20 years ago.
The nonprofit organization filed the Freedom of Information Act lawsuit on December 3, 2015, in Cook County Circuit Court. The Murder Accountability Project contends the general public has a right to know the details of unsolved homicides, including how many unsolved murders have been committed in Illinois.
In 1994, Illinois State Police stopped reporting homicide clearance counts to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report or any information whatsoever to the bureau’s Supplementary Homicide Report. The Murder Accountability Project contends this information is useful to police departments nationwide in solving crimes, especially those involving offenders suspected of killing across jurisdictional lines.
“The people of Illinois have the right to know how they are being murdered and whether those murders have been solved,” said Thomas K. Hargrove, founder and chairman of the Murder Accountability Project.
Illinois is the largest jurisdiction in the United States failing to report complete homicide information so that police, policy makers and the general public may know what kinds of homicides have not been cleared through arrest.
"It is the public policy of Illinois that all people have access to public records in order to promote transparency and ensure proper administration of their own government,” said attorney Matthew V. Topic of the Chicago civil rights law firm Loevy & Loevy, who prepared the suit.
The Murder Accountability Project has assembled the nation’s most complete accounting of homicides, including nearly 21,000 murders not reported to the U.S. Department of Justice under its voluntary crime reporting programs. The group makes these data available at its website www.murderdata.org and regularly makes presentations on how to use the data at training seminars for law enforcement.