Mount Prospect mayor, police chief address calls for change
Mount Prospect Mayor Arlene Juracek said the village is listening to the voices of protest.
In the wake of a recent demonstration outside village hall over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Juracek said she, Police Chief John Koziol and members of the village board have received numerous emails calling for action. That includes signing the 8 Can't Wait Pledge, referring to eight use-of-force policies proponents say will reduce police violence.
Among those taking part in the protest was Mount Prospect resident Joann Smith, who said that while she loves village and recognizes police have a tough job, she has been stopped by officers for "driving while black more times than I want to even acknowledge."
"Mount Prospect has to get rid of the good old boys club because it still exists," she said.
Addressing the issue at Tuesday's village board meeting, Juracek said the stories told at the demonstration indicate Mount Prospect has a "way to go."
But Juracek said she also is proud to say that the village's police department has made and continues to make strides on the kind of policies protesters are seeking.
Koziol said preventing the "criminal tragedy" of Floyd's death depends on good hiring practices. He said he and a member of his command staff participate in interviews with candidates, who are subjected to extensive background checks, polygraph examinations and psychological evaluations.
A full-time civilian employee views in-car camera videos daily to check for policy violations and flag potential training issues, he added. And the department has been meeting the 8 Can't Wait standards.
Officers are trained in crisis intervention and de-escalation strategies, as well as cultural competency, Koziol said. They are required to give a verbal warning prior to the use of deadly force and must tell a supervisor if a colleague uses excessive force.
"We hire human beings with a kind heart, a good sense of ethics, who are courageous, willing to fight hard, even get hurt for you," he said.