Elgin police chief: Many changes this year, more in progress after shooting

Police department working with consultant in wake of Clements shooting

  • Hillard Heintze consultants, including Shirley Colvin, senior investigator, left, Carl Dobrich, senior analyst, and Deb Kirby, chief legal officer, right, presented their review of Elgin Police Department policies at a council meeting Saturday.

      Hillard Heintze consultants, including Shirley Colvin, senior investigator, left, Carl Dobrich, senior analyst, and Deb Kirby, chief legal officer, right, presented their review of Elgin Police Department policies at a council meeting Saturday. John Starks | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 7/22/2019 8:30 PM

The Elgin Police Department has implemented several new initiatives this year and has been working on a comprehensive review of all its policies that will incorporate a consultant's recommendations "to ensure best practices," Police Chief Ana Lalley said Monday.

One recommendation from the firm Hillard Heintze of Chicago is that a next-level police supervisor be notified to come to the scene when the ranking supervisor is actively engaged in responding to a call, such as during a fatal police shooting in 2018 in Elgin.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The "critical incident policies" review was part of a professional standards investigation into the March 12, 2018, shooting of resident Decynthia Clements. Lt. Christian Jensen, who was the ranking supervisor that night, took the lead as part of a four-officer team that moved to rescue Clements from her burning car. Jensen shot Clements when she exited holding two knives.

Hillard Heintze also recommended more officers be trained to rely less on the SWAT team, such as when people need to be extricated from vehicles. Lalley said the department has been working on that.

The consultants said many departments have a crisis intervention officer on duty at all times. That's happening in Elgin, Lalley said. There are more than 170 officers trained in crisis intervention and the remaining 21 will be trained by the end of the year, she said. Three such officers were present the night of the shooting, along with a trained negotiator.

An internal review committee made of officers, supervisors and dispatchers was revamped three months ago. Its members are reviewing all police department policies and will make recommendations to the police command staff, Lalley said.

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The department this year created a collaborative crisis services unit with two full-time officers and three part-time mental health workers; the latter are in process of being hired. The unit assists with mental health-related calls.

An "emergency services detail" of two officers, both SWAT members, working 4 p.m. to midnight daily was established about five months ago, and the goal is to expand that, Lalley said. The two officers have specialized equipment to respond to calls involving violent or armed individuals, Lalley said.

That includes a "Y bar" that can pin people in place, and three robots, a small one with video and two that allow communication with video and audio, Lalley said.

The department bought new software to track performance evaluations and complaints regarding use of force.

"It's like an early warning system," Lalley said. "It can give us indications of possibly something of concern, but also the good things."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The department also is finalizing an agreement with the Center for Policing Equity in New York City, which will analyze data about traffic and pedestrian stops, Lalley said. That's typically required of police under consent decree with the U.S. Department of Justice, but Elgin is doing that voluntarily, Lalley said.

"If there is something to work on, then I'd rather know it," she said.

Changes: Partnership with Center of Policing Equity would analyze traffic-stop data

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