Is some Elgin officers' work better left to other agencies? Task force will seek the answer

 
 
Updated 8/12/2020 8:02 PM

A request for proposals to find a facilitator for a future task force on policing in Elgin will state that among many of the things to be examined is whether any work being done by police officers is better suited to other agencies or civilians.

That language will be added at the request of Councilwoman Tish Powell, who, along with Councilman Toby Shaw, will serve as liaison to the task force.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I think too often we are asking police to do social work and all kinds of other things that really is beyond what they should be involved in and should be stretched to do," Powell said at the city council's committee of the whole Wednesday.

The final document will be reviewed by Powell and Shaw and the search will launch before the next council meeting Aug. 26.

The council agreed to that in a 7-1 vote, with Councilman Terry Gavin voting "no." Councilman John Steffen was absent.

The Elgin Police Department has been the target since late May of several protests by Black Lives Matter activists who want, among other things, to divert funds from policing to community-based services and for the city to arrange the departure of a police lieutenant who was cleared of fatally shooting a resident in 2018.

The task force will review the policies, procedures and practices of the police department. The facilitator will assist the city council on developing the structure of the task force, council members agreed Wednesday.

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The city is looking for a facilitator with experience and who's dealt with "contentious topics, communities of color, police and community relations, police reform and other social justice issues," according to the document presented by city staff members ahead of the meeting Wednesday.

The work will happen in three phases, the document states.

In the first phase, the facilitator and the task force will tackle a variety of things, including: determine the need for a formal civilian police review board, evaluate processes for filing police complaints, give recommendations on personnel practices to establish a diverse workforce, and look at training practices.

During the second phase, the facilitator and task force "will work with the city to determine which recommendations will be pursued for further study and investigation." This phase will consist of a more detailed assessment that might include things like reviewing arrest and traffic stop data to see if there are any disparities in terms of race, gender, mental health issues and other factors.

In the third phase, the facilitator and task force will create a proposed plan to implement the recommendations and identify mechanisms to regularly assess progress.

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