The death of George Floyd at the hands of a police officer in Minneapolis has led to outrage, violence and calls for police reform nationwide. Locally, there have been many demonstrations, criminal acts, and countless conversations about bias, racism and police policies. I have been honored to be part of many of these conversations as our community identifies opportunities to combat racism and be more inclusive.
I want to reassure all members of our community that the tactics used by the officer who killed Mr. Floyd are not representative of how we police in Naperville. And, while we remain open to conversations aimed at making policing better in our city, I’d like to provide residents with some basic information about where we stand at the Naperville Police Department.
Our department embraces a model of continuous improvement. This has led to many positive and proactive changes to our policies, training and accountability over the years. In fact, this model led us to revise our Use of Force policy back in 2016:
- to remove the use of neck restraints and chokeholds,
- to prohibit firing at or from moving vehicles,
- to create a system to thoroughly review all uses of force, and
- to require officers to intercede if they see another officer using force that’s unreasonable under the circumstances.
You may recognize a number of these provisions as being part of campaigns like “8 Can’t Wait” and “Campaign Zero” that are being used as a baseline for national talks about police reform. These provisions have been part of our policy for years. We have trained our officers on these provisions for years. Our officers have been held accountable to those provisions for years.
In 2016, we also changed the name of our policy from “Use of Force” to “Response to Resistance” to more accurately describe our tactics. Our officers don’t patrol looking for opportunities to use force. They respond to resistance. This is an important distinction that hopefully gives residents some insight into how we approach policing in Naperville.
As an accredited law enforcement agency, we are continually reviewing and revising policies to reflect best practices from throughout the country. The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) reviews our policies to ensure they are up to date, within law and, most importantly, to make sure we’re in compliance with those policies. Following our most recent assessment, we were granted our 9th consecutive accreditation status in March 2020.
We are a forward-thinking department that relies heavily on training and accountability to ensure we are providing the best possible service to the City of Naperville. I am proud of the professionalism and dedication of every member of this department. They serve this community with integrity and dignity and should be judged based on their merits and reputation here in Naperville, not by the policies of less progressive departments or the actions of less disciplined officers elsewhere in the United States.
In recent years, the Naperville Police Department has proactively identified areas of improvement and made efforts to combat racism in our community. Here are a few examples:
- We adopted former President Obama’s Task Force Report on 21st Century Policing in 2015 and comply with its six pillars. You can read more about this at www.naperville.il.us/21stCenturyPolicing.
- We adopted and comply with 10 shared principles developed in conjunction with the NAACP in 2018.
- We train our officers regularly in the areas of de-escalation, implicit and explicit bias, hate crime investigation and crisis intervention.
- We engage in open, two-way communication with various groups in our community, including Unity Partnership, the Islamic Center of Naperville, Naper Pride and countless others.
I spoke about many of these initiatives during an hour-long NCTV17 program Finding Common Ground that I appeared in recently along with Unity Partnership’s Regina Brent. The show explored local and national events, existing local policies and police reform. The show is available to watch below and is a great place to start if you’re looking for more information on the state of policing in Naperville.
As difficult as the recent weeks have been for members of our community, law enforcement officers and our country as a whole, I will never give up hope that we’re going to learn from these experiences. We will learn how we can enhance policing by always adopting best practices. We will continue to learn how to make our community #ASaferNaper for EVERYONE.