What Biden's executive order on police reform means for suburban departments

  • President Joe Biden speaks before signing an executive order on policing Wednesday at the White House. The order includes a provision banning federal law enforcement from using chokeholds to subdue people.

    President Joe Biden speaks before signing an executive order on policing Wednesday at the White House. The order includes a provision banning federal law enforcement from using chokeholds to subdue people. Associated Press

  • John Idleburg

    John Idleburg

  • Steven Husak

    Steven Husak

 
Updated 5/27/2022 9:05 AM

The police-reform executive order President Joseph Biden signed Wednesday mostly covers federal law-enforcement officers.

But there are provisions that could affect local law enforcement. And overall, suburban police leaders with whom we spoke say the federal order jibes with policies in place here.

 

"The executive order signed by President Biden mirrors much of what we have already been doing at the Lake County Sheriff's Office and law enforcement across the region," Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg said.

Among its provisions, the order bans federal law enforcement from using chokeholds, or putting pressure on carotid arteries, to subdue people.

Illinois banned chokeholds and similar restraint moves after the 2020 death of George Floyd in Minnesota. A police officer knelt on Floyd's neck for nine minutes, even as Floyd said that he could not breathe.

The order also calls for establishing the National Law Enforcement Accountability Database, which would track records of misconduct, as well as commendations and awards, for federal officers. Local agencies would be allowed to do so also, and they would be able to check the database when hiring.

"Regarding police officers who commit wrongdoing, I know firsthand that they are not wanted or accepted by their colleagues," Idleburg said. "If we have an employee commit a criminal act, or serious misconduct, we already report that to the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board. Federal government should absolutely do the same,"

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"Nobody hates a bad cop more than a good cop," Lake Zurich Police Chief Steve Husak added.

The federal order calls for a review of increasing limits on the purchase or transfer of some military equipment to local police departments, beyond existing federal regulations. That includes .50-caliber weapons and ammunition, silencers, bayonets, grenade launchers, stun and flash-bang grenades, weaponized drones and all tracked and armored vehicles.

When such equipment is obtained by a local police department, the agency must inform the community about the acquisition and why, and it must be authorized by a village board or city council.

In Lake County, Idleburg said, military-style equipment is only used during situations where a person -- including first responders -- may need to be rescued. "It is not equipment utilized on patrol or during any normal interactions with the community."

He said he had no concerns about informing the public about such purchases.

Husak said his department doesn't typically purchase military equipment -- it relies on regional SWAT teams in situations where those kinds of weapons, vehicles and gear may be needed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Husak appreciates the emphasis on professionalism in the order, including requiring federal agencies to undergo accreditation. And Idleburg notes that the order takes into account the mental health of law enforcement professionals.

"For too long, our law-enforcement, who put themselves in harm's way every day, have not had the mental wellness support they need," he said. "These officers see horrific scenes, investigate heinous crimes, and we need to ensure they are taken care of."

'10 Shared Principles'

Highland Park Chief Lou Jogmen, who is president of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, said the IACP does not have an official position on Biden's order yet.

"However, what we have seen (in the order) is reflective of work we have done in Illinois," Jogmen said. "The language really mirrors our '10 Shared Principles.'"

The IACP and the Illinois NAACP adopted the "10 Shared Principles" in 2018. Among them -- they value the life of every person; every person should be treated with dignity and respect.; and a rejection of discrimination toward any person; embracing de-escalation techniques; promoting diversity in hiring; and building trusting relationships between law enforcement and communities of color

"Life, of course, is the highest priority," Jogmen said.

The principles also acknowledges historical problems between police and communities of color. Many cities and villages throughout the state have adopted them. On Thursday, IACP and NAACP sent copies to all state legislators, asking them to endorse them.

Tender hearts = targets

In the wake of a tragedy -- whether it is the mass murder in Uvalde, Texas, a Ukrainian war relief, or a fatal accident -- the Better Business Bureau reminds us to be cautious about giving money to help the victims. Take a moment to study up before hitting the "donate" button.

"While most people are inherently good, there are individuals who will seek to take advantage of others' good intentions," Steve J. Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois, said in a news release Thursday.

Their advice?

Know that not everyone using the names and photos of victims has received permission from the victims' families. Be wary about appeals that don't say how the money will be used. Be wary of claims that 100% of the funds will go to the families. Ask the organizer to explain how administrative and fundraising expenses are being paid.

Don't click on links to unfamiliar charity websites in text messages and emails. The links may take you to a look-alike website that will ask you to provide personal financial information, or download malware to your device.

The BBB has a tool, give.org, where you can find more information.

• Do you have a tip or a comment? Email us at copsandcrime@dailyherald.com.

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