Leaders sharing police reform ideas for Naperville
A state representative who drew criticism and calls for her resignation last year after commenting on "white supremacist policies" in Naperville now is working with leaders of the DuPage NAACP and Unity Partnership to suggest ideas for police reform.
Anne Stava-Murray, a Naperville Democrat representing the 81st District, along with Michael Childress of the DuPage NAACP and Regina Brent of Unity Partnership, have suggested at least 10 ways the city can make its police department more accountable and transparent.
They met last week, in the wake of protests about the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, with City Manager Doug Krieger, city council member Benny White and Mayor Steve Chirico to present their ideas, which include:
• Require officers to wear body cameras with audio.
• Improve the process of filing complaints against an officer.
• Increase the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners from five to nine members; make it an elected office; and schedule evening meetings in the city council chambers. Have misconduct cases handled by the board instead of by arbitration.
• Reject officer candidates who show high likelihood on psychological tests of having a racially or sexually insensitive incident, improper discharge of a weapon or excessive use of force.
• Keep more records from the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners to improve transparency.
• Extend the probationary period for new officers to two or three years.
• Pay the costs of police misconduct lawsuits from the police department budget.
Chirico and White said they are open to discussing some of the ideas, but each shared hesitations about others.
Chirico said he wants to consider implementing body cameras and changing the complaint process. White also said these are issues he wants to see addressed.
Body cameras would require an investment -- not only to buy the cameras, but also to pay for data storage and security, White said. It's an investment he said would be worthwhile.
The complaint process should be improved to assure people feel confident they will not face retaliation for speaking out, White said.
"I want people to report when things aren't right; they've got to be able to do that," he said. "That's one of the primary ways we make our police force even better than it is. We have a great police department, but we're always looking at ways to grow and get better."
Chirico defended the city's hiring process as careful and thorough, and said some factors about the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners, such as its number of members and the fact they are appointed, are set by state statute. White said he's open to discussing whether the board should include more members, but he's hesitant to support having them elected.
Chirico said handling of police misconduct cases is addressed in the union contract between the city and Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 42, so there needs to be a balance between discipline and protections for officers.
None of the ideas brought forward by Stava-Murray, Childress and Brent include disbanding or abolishing the police department.
Childress said getting rid of police is "a good slogan, a good bumper sticker, but it's not a plan."
Brent, who has been working for at least four years with Unity Partnership to improve relationships between police and minority communities, said police should be funded "well enough to do their job."
Chief Robert Marshall said disbanding the force would be irresponsible because it would leave no one to provide protection. But he said he's open to discussing ways to "make policing better."
Laura Hois, a Republican candidate for state representative in the 81st District, said she supports efforts to review policies and find ways to improve.
"However, the call to 'defund' the police is not a good idea and is actually putting vulnerable communities in more danger," Hois said in an email.
Police in Naperville have taken many steps to improve in the recent past, Chirico said. For example, the department outlawed neck restraints and chokeholds "years ago," Marshall said. Officers also undergo training in crisis de-escalation, Mental Health First Aid and avoiding bias.
The department has earned accreditation nine times from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc., making it an accredited agency since 1992.