Elgin will look for facilitator for task force on policing
The Elgin City Council has appointed two of its own as liaisons to a future task force on policing and has directed city staff members to craft a request for qualifications to find a facilitator.
Councilwoman Tish Powell, a Black woman who has criticized the police department in the wake of a fatal police shooting in 2018, and Councilman Toby Shaw, a white man who often points to the successes of the department, were appointed to the task force during the council meeting Wednesday night.
"Truth be told, they have more in common than they don't," said Councilman Corey Dixon, who made the motion to appoint Powell and Shaw, "but to have two people with different ideas and different viewpoints and different experience to come together and be able to work, government doesn't get any better than that."
The motion was approved 6-2. Shaw abstained, and council members Rose Martinez and Terry Gavin voted "no."
Martinez said she would have liked to have been consulted on the selection of the council liaisons, who shouldn't be named until after the task force is formed, she said. Also, Elgin's population is 45% Latino, but neither Powell nor Shaw is part of that ethnic group, Martinez said after the meeting.
"I wasn't even considered," she said. "I would have liked to give my input."
Since late May, the Elgin Police Department has been the target of several protests by Black Lives Matter activists who want, among other things, to divert funds from policing to community-based services.
Gavin said he doesn't believe a task force is necessary because Police Chief Ana Lalley already has implemented innovation and change within the department. "We are already way ahead of the curve when it comes to working within the community," Gavin said.
The task force would be charged with looking at opportunities to improve policing culture, ensure accountability and restore trust in the police, and re-examine how police resources are used, Powell said. "Where are we lacking resources and where should we do better?" she said.
Shaw said he views the task force as a "continuation" and "celebration" of the work and reforms done by the police department. "It's a way for us to continue to take some of the input that we are hearing and discuss it with a group of folks that are just very focused on it, laser focused on it, looking at it from different aspects, looking at it from a data perspective, and being able to dig into some of those really tough conversations."
The idea of issuing a request for qualifications for a facilitator came from Mayor David Kaptain, who also said there should be a connection between the task force and seven new resident-led community advisory boards being formed by the police department.
"Everybody's voice should be heard, and if we're not careful, we will lose those voices," Kaptain said. "This is extremely important to the community. I take it very seriously."
Council members said they want the task force to be formed as soon as possible and they likely will have a special retreat to figure out its objectives.
"I want to make sure we are very intentional about getting this done as quickly as we can," Dixon said.