Activists protest Elgin lieutenant's reinstatement as petition in support of him emerges
About 16 activists gathered Wednesday afternoon in front of the Elgin police station to protest the reinstatement of a lieutenant who fatally shot a woman last year.
Meanwhile, city officials for the first time acknowledged they received an online petition about a month ago with 2,230 names of people who supported reinstating Lt. Christian Jensen.
A petition with about 1,600 signatures collected door-to-door -- detractors say 1,300 or so were from Elgin residents -- asking for Jensen to be fired was turned in to the city during a city council meeting in July. No mention had been made about the petition supporting reinstatement.
Jensen fatally shot Decynthia Clements on March 12, 2018, and the shooting was ruled justified by the Cook County state's attorney's office and a consultant who did an investigation on behalf of the city. The city announced last week Jensen is being reinstated to administrative duty. He's due to come back to work sometime this month.
Police Chief Ana Lalley said the online petition was emailed to her and City Manager Rick Kozal on Aug. 7. She didn't discuss it publicly or share it with the city council because it was part of the extensive feedback she has been receiving over the past year, which included voices across the spectrum, she said. "They sent it and I looked at it," she said.
Kozal refused to answer questions from the Daily Herald on Wednesday night.
Lalley shared the petition with the Daily Herald. About 330 signatures came from Elgin residents, others from residents of suburbs including South Elgin, Naperville, Hoffman Estates and more, and others from as far as Indiana, Florida and Texas. Some signatures had no city of origin.
The petition was submitted by the National Police Association, a nonprofit based in Indianapolis. The group was criticized by police departments in four states when the group sent letters soliciting donations and implying the funds would go to local communities and they instead went to the nonprofit itself, according to a March story in the Indianapolis Star.
Mayor David Kaptain said he didn't know about the pro-reinstatement petition and was disappointed he wasn't told about it.
"I would like to have seen it. I think the public deserves to have all the same information," Kaptain said.
The Wednesday protest was organized by Fox Valley Citizens for Peace & Justice, whose representative, Mary Shesgreen, read a statement saying the group is "dismayed and deeply disappointed" by the decision to reinstate Jensen. The decision was endorsed by Kozal.
"We are concerned that the attitude of distrust and even hostility between the police and the black and Latinx community, which had improved somewhat in recent decades, may revert and lead to racial profiling and more suffering for everyone involved," Shesgreen said.
Lalley said she knew her decision would make some people unhappy and that there will be hard conversations coming.
"As we continue to move forward, I hope that they will be involved in the conversation moving the police department forward," Lalley said. "I think that's important, that we move forward in unity together."