Aurora creates review board to help improve police relations

  • Keith Cross

    Keith Cross

 
 
Updated 6/14/2021 12:12 PM

The city of Aurora has instituted several initiatives to help improve race relations, especially between law enforcement personnel and communities of color.

Among them is a new civilian review board to oversee complaints against police officers and increase transparency.

 

As part of the city's CHANGE Reform Initiative, officials sought feedback from residents regarding their concerns about policing, spurred by a global racial reckoning and protests calling for police accountability and reform in the aftermath of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis.

"We were able to look at some things and identify how we could be better," said Deputy Chief Keith Cross, past president of the Northern Illinois chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives. "There are issues that need to be addressed, public education, training, communication. ... We have to have conversations. We have to understand people's cultural differences and what role they play in how we go about doing our jobs.

"We actually have had internal conversations with our people to talk about race relations and policing, to learn more about each other ... and how it relates to their jobs. That helped with the healing process."

Officials are training nine civilian review board members who were selected through a rigorous vetting process from an extensive list of candidates, Cross said.

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"By July, they will be up and running and begin reviewing citizen complaints, making recommendations on those complaints to the chief," said Cross, who will serve as the police department's liaison for the board.

Aurora has a robust community policing unit with 17 officers. The city's roughly 300 sworn officers are about 87% male and 13% female, including Police Chief Kristen Ziman; and 71% white, roughly 22% Hispanic, about 6% Black and less than 1% Asian American. Its civilian employees are 70% female and 29% male; and roughly 69% white, about 23% Hispanic and 8% Black, with no Asians on staff.

Officials are working on further diversifying the department through partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Cross said.

Marcus Belin
Marcus Belin
Principal honors

Huntley High School Principal Marcus Belin has been named one of three Digital Principals of the Year by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

Winners receive a trip to the association's annual national conference, can speak at the National Principals Conference and also be featured on the cover of Principal Leadership magazine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Belin was chosen for innovation, advancing equity and using technology to engage students in conversation about social-emotional topics. such as anxiety, mental health, sexual abuse and school culture.

Huntley High's blended learning program is ranked No. 1 in the nation by Study.com. The school is a member of Digital Promise's League of Innovative Schools and has implemented a competency-based education pilot program that blends in-person and online learning, under Belin's leadership.

Flying Pride

Buffalo Grove will display a Pride flag provided by a young community member on village property at the Rotary Village Green, 265 N. Buffalo Grove Road, this month.

Roughly 40 LGBTQ+ supporters spoke during last week's village board meeting to protest the village's denial of resident and Pride Drive organizer Carolyn Pinta's request that a Pride flag fly over village hall.

"This public park is a gathering place where the Pride flag can be displayed and recognized by the entire community. The village remains steadfast in encouraging acceptance and inclusion for LGBTQ+ and all community members," a village statement reads.

The village board will review policies for flying flags at the Rotary Village Green and discuss guidelines for future requests at its June 21 meeting.

Diversity in business

The Daily Herald Business Ledger is seeking nominees for its Diversity in Business Awards honoring businesses that have shown exceptional commitment to promoting practices advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

That includes promoting diversity in business leadership and bolstering equality across all areas, such as age, disability, gender, sexual orientation, race and religion.

Nominated businesses/organizations should have a significant business presence in the Chicago suburbs. The Daily Herald Business Ledger's coverage area includes, Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties.

Submit a nomination at lnkd.in/e75pSuM by the July 1 deadline. Candidates will be contacted with a request to provide the selection committee with materials to support their nomination.

Bystander intervention

The Council on American-Islamic Relations-Chicago, the largest Muslim civil rights organization, is partnering with Advancing Justice-Chicago and Hollaback! to provide an interactive, online bystander intervention training in response to an uptick in hate crimes and incidents.

Since 2016, CAIR-Chicago has recorded an unprecedented increase in anti-Muslim harassment, including Muslim women attacked in public, children bullied and beat up at school, and families threatened by violence in their homes. During this past pandemic year, there also has been a sharp rise in anti-Asian harassment nationwide, with Illinois ranked third in number of reported incidents.

The one-hour training will help participants:

• Learn about the types of disrespect and dangers Asians, Asian Americans and Muslims face now and throughout history, from microaggressions to violence.

• Understand what to look for in scenarios and the positive impact bystander intervention has on individuals and communities.

• Talk through five strategies for intervention and how to prioritize personal safety while intervening.

• Practice using the strategies so participants are confident intervening.

Organizations or community groups can sign up by emailing antihate@advancingjustice-chicago.org. For details, email Deputy Director Sufyan Sohel at ssohel@cair.com.

• Share stories, news and happenings from the suburban mosaic at mkrishnamurthy@dailyherald.com.

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