Aurora wins award for CHANGE police reform initiative

Updated 10/11/2021 12:07 PM

Aurora's CHANGE reform program won the Best Innovation Award at the DuPage Mayors and Managers Conference's Municipal Innovation Celebration.

The program -- Community Helping Aurora's Necessary Growth and Empowerment -- focuses on police accountability and strengthening relationships between Aurora's police officers and the community.


One of its major accomplishments was creating a civilian review board.

"Everyone deserves a voice in how we progress as a city," Aurora Mayor Richard C. Irvin said in a statement. "The CHANGE Initiative provided a platform for voices to not only be heard, but also assessed and acted upon in very public and transparent way."

Aurora also established an Equity and Inclusion Department.

Schaumburg won the Best Presentation Award for how it presented its SnowStat program. Schaumburg officials used an animated parody of "South Park" characters believing they were playing a video game, not realizing they had logged into the publicly accessible SnowStat portal. SnowStat shows all truck numbers, their locations, and the status of salting, plowing and patrolling.

"DuPage County municipalities have been on the forefront of innovative thinking by designing and implementing new programs and services that benefit residents and taxpayers, especially during the pandemic which continues to present numerous challenges for towns and cities across the country," Westmont Mayor Ron Gunter, president of the conference, said in a news release. "The Innovation Awards demonstrate that local governments in DuPage County are operating smarter and more efficiently to improve the lives of their residents and saving money."

Itasca, Oak Brook, Bartlett and Lombard also submitted entries.

Bartlett has a facility dog at the police department. It reduces the anxiety of victims and witnesses, which improves communication with investigators. The dog also comforts employees and visits groups and communities affected by violence, tragedy or traumatic events.

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Itasca started "Itasca Bucks," mailing them to residents to be redeemed at local restaurants. Residents could use $1 in Itasca Bucks for each dollar they spent.

Lombard implemented an online permit portal that includes permit approval routing, automated messaging, and automated scheduling of inspections.

Oak Brook created the Citizens Pension Academy to teach people about police and fire pensions. Twenty-minute modules taught people about payroll appropriations, pension funding status, and the village's spending priorities for public safety and other budget items.

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