Elgin council calls for changes to several police-related procedures
Elgin's city council wants changes to some police-related procedures in the wake of multiple Black Lives Matter protests, including one held outside city hall as the council met Wednesday.
A majority of council members said they want to add two more residents to the board of police and fire commissioners, establish a residency requirement for police officers, and hire an independent consultant for any internal investigations related to the police department.
Councilmembers voted Wednesday to direct city staff members to draft the ordinance changes that will require a final vote, likely in two weeks. That was prompted by a fired-up Councilman Corey Dixon, who was joined by Councilwoman Tish Powell in asking for action. "We have reached a breaking point where the conversations need to continue, but action needs to be had," Dixon said.
A majority of their colleagues agreed.
"Change in the police culture is happening, but we have to continue that. We have to sustain it with effort and energy," Councilman John Steffen said.
Elgin's elected officials are not the only ones in the suburbs calling for police-related changes. In Aurora, Mayor Richard Irvin announced a new reform initiative Tuesday to review law enforcement policies and explore new measures, such as body cameras -- which Elgin has -- and a civilian review board, which activists in Elgin have asked for.
The changes proposed in Elgin are as follows:
• Adding two more residents to the board of police and fire commissioners, which currently includes three civilians plus the police chief and fire chief. The three residents must include at least one woman and one minority, and the same would apply to the two added seats. "I think that diversity makes everything better," Dixon said.
The only "no" vote came from Councilman Terry Gavin.
• By ordinance, the police chief and deputy chief must live in Elgin, or move to Elgin within two years of their appointment, although the city manager could grant a three-year extension.
Police Chief Ana Lalley lives in Elgin; Deputy Chief Colin Fleury, named to the post in 2019, lives in Hampshire. Council members said they want that rule to apply to all future police supervisors, meaning sergeants, lieutenants and commanders. Current ones would be grandfathered in.
A residency requirement for new rank-and-file officers would have to be agreed by contract with the Policemen's Benevolent and Protective Association Unit 54. The last contract ran out Dec. 31 and the union and the city are currently in negotiations.
Councilmen Gavin and Toby Shaw voted "no."
Union President Dan McNanna didn't return a request for comment.
About one-third of police officers live in town, police spokeswoman Kristie Hilton said, including 51 of 152 rank-and-file officers and 10 of 32 supervisors including the police chief.
Lalley agreed that officers living in the community "is a good thing" but cautioned people have various reasons for choosing where to live, such as schooling or their spouse's workplace.
• Requiring that any internal investigations in the police department not be done by former Elgin police or even any former police officers. The person in charge of investigating complaints against city employees is Jim Barnes, whose title is professional standards officer and who is a retired Elgin police sergeant. Barnes was named in 2010 to the position, which typically exists in large cities.
Dixon said he's "never heard anything negative" about Barnes. "This is just about policemen, or former cops, investigating, in this case in particular, their former colleagues," Dixon said. "That is egregious. That should have never been OK to begin with."
Dixon also said he wants the ordinance to state that anyone hired to do police-related investigations cannot be former law enforcement, or related to former law enforcement. That was a reference to Hillard Heintze, the Chicago firm hired by the city for an investigation into the 2018 fatal police shooting of resident Decynthia Clements. The firm was founded by a former Secret Service agent and a retired Chicago police superintendent.
Councilman Gavin cast the only "no" vote.
The two-hour discussion was preceded by a lengthy presentation from police Chief Ana Lalley about changes made over the years to police training and practices, and a few "next steps," such as her desire to add mental health workers to the department's collaborative crisis services unit.