Editorial: Residents should be part of the discussion about police reform

When the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis sparked protests across the nation, suburban officials were among those who acknowledged the need for police reform.

To the credit of those local police chiefs and elected leaders, progress is being made.

Arlington Heights police added a "duty to intervene" policy that requires officers to stop or attempt to stop inappropriate uses of force by their colleagues. Several towns, including Antioch, Batavia and Wheeling, are moving forward to equip their police officers with body cameras. Naperville has budgeted money to hire an additional social worker, pay for crisis intervention training and take the initial steps of implementing a body camera program.

Aurora held community meetings so residents could review the police department's use-of-force and training policies. The city is now getting body cameras and has formed a civilian review board that will be involved in disciplining police officers.

Elgin police, meanwhile, have established resident-led community advisory boards and most recently debuted a new transparency website.

These are all positive steps. But our hope is that more will be done.

Therefore, we were encouraged this month when members of Unity Partnership, a group that strives to break down barriers between law enforcement and civilians, talked about working with the Lisle Police Department.

Lisle Trustee Sara Sadat, who is running for mayor, said during a news conference that the group asked the village to adopt body cameras and explore other ways to bring together residents in the community and the police department.

Unity Partnership founder Regina Brent said the goal is to get programs that would make a difference in how police officers treat minorities. Some of the suggestions include banning chokeholds, temporarily stopping no-knock warrants and increasing police accountability.

Sadat says the response from Lisle police has been positive. The department is listening to input, she said.

"The only thing that will make a difference - to building trust - is the community and police department working together," Sadat said.

What's going on in Lisle is an example of what can happen when residents are part of the conversation.

Instead of state mandates, local residents should have their voices heard when it comes to police reform. It's their communities that will be affected.

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