As Mayor, I would like to provide the City Council and the community with a summary of the events surrounding the Black Lives Matter—St Charles demonstration.
Prior to the event, organizers of the Black Lives Matter—St. Charles approached the Chief of Police and me to discuss the format and agenda of a peaceful demonstration at noon on June 6 at Lincoln Park. The City did not sponsor the event but I was asked to be one of the speakers. I accepted. Meetings in preparation ensued; a program of speeches took place with representation from our young adults; a peaceful march was conducted from Lincoln Park to Route 25. The event lasted approximately two hours.
Peaceful dialogue has always existed in our community and because of the professionalism of the organizers and the St. Charles Police, another such example of this model became a reality.
Electronic dialogue by citizens and businesses with the Mayor, Police Chief and some Council Members took place before and has been ongoing after the demonstration. The Mayor and the Police Chief continue to engage citizens on an individual basis.
Much of the conversation has focused on police standards of conduct particularly as it relates to the use of force.
In order to seek a universal message to our residents, staff has constructed an entry on our City web page entitled the St. Charles Police Department’s Commitment to the Community. In it, the standards adopted by the Department in 1989 as an accredited agency by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) which are industry best practices, are outlined. It should be noted that transparency and outside scrutiny from a team of law enforcement assessors reviewing policy and day-to-day operations against the aforementioned best practices is Department policy.
Further, the Department in July of 2019 adopted Ten Shared Principles affirmed by the National Association of Colored People (NAACP) and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police. They are outlined as well.
The extended national conversation begets enumeration of some additional department caveats:
- Officers are trained in de-escalation techniques and many are certified in crisis intervention.
- A full-time social worker and 24-hour system in place to respond to crisis situations.
- Over half of the sworn officers started careers elsewhere and came to our city as experienced officers.
- There is a zero-tolerance approach toward racial profiling and have a policy against biased-based policing.
- Vehicle and pedestrian stops are sent to an outside entity that reviews enforcement from a gender, race and bias perspective.
- All use of force incidents are documented, reviewed, and investigated by our command team.
- There is a thorough complaint procedure in place.
- There is transparency in all of our activities via a yearly report. Such activities include education, prevention, and communication programs that create a strong partnership and engagement with young adults, special needs students and adults, disadvantaged students and adults, and our elderly population.
The Mayor and the Police Chief and his staff have doors that are open to a continued constructive dialogue. Our goal is to continue working to assure our community that the intolerable acts by police in other cities causing the genesis for the national conversation at hand have no place in our community and we will work with fellow government agencies to reinforce that message.
At the request of the City Council, a public discourse to provide individual or collective dialogue on any and all of these matters can be scheduled.