Illinois police chiefs support body cameras, and our association president explains why in an op-ed column in today’s Springfield, IL, daily newspaper. You can find it here. Changing the law to make it happen is our number one priority in this legislative session.
Police chiefs throughout the country are committed to three things:
3. Building trust
It’s true. It’s what an international police chiefs’ leader told President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing at its first hearing last month. The speaker was Richard Beary, president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
The trouble is, of course, that not all task force members and not all communities believe that police chiefs have these commitments.
Which is exactly why we need to let community leaders know of our deep interest in:
1. New kinds of communication
2. Stronger partnerships
3. Building trust together
The transcript and video of that one-hour hearing are here.
I heard a great speech last Friday. Drew White told a large gathering of law enforcement officers, “I think you are all heroes.” Why? Because hundreds of Illinois police officers donate their time to raise money and participate in Special Olympics of Illinois activities.
Illinois law enforcement has indeed created a mutual admiration society with Special Olympics athletes, and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police is proud to be a part of this great Illinois story.
“Every year at Summer Games,” said Drew, who is 22 years old, “I look forward to the final torch run leg running into town down Main Street. There are tons of squad cars and emergency vehicles sirens sounding and lights flashing, following behind. And the excitement in the stadium when the Flame of Hope is carried into the Opening Ceremony by what seems like hundreds of law enforcement officers. The lights in the stadium are turned off, but the torches light the way to cauldron. It is such an awesome sight and makes me proud to be a Special Olympics athlete!”
Friday’s kickoff event was timely because the annual Polar Plunge Season has just arrived and begins this weekend at Lake Michigan.
I’m getting around the state meeting with Illinois police chiefs and the many regional associations of chiefs and law enforcement leaders. On February 3 I was at the Canton Park District to meet with the Fulton County association. Former Fairview Chief Craig Shaw (center) started this group in 1991 and handed over the reins to Farmington Chief Carl Powell (at Shaw’s left) at this meeting. It was good for me to see how well these law enforcement leaders cooperate to help keep their communities safe.
I watched a short movie with this title yesterday with a group of college students and community leaders. Leading the presentation were leaders of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), based on a production from Flex Your Rights.
One of their first recommendations is not to have “an attitude” when first interacting with a police officer. That can make the whole encounter go very badly. Here are the first five rules:
1. Always be calm and cool. Check your attitude at the door.
2. Remember you have a right to remain silent (and be polite about it).
3. Don’t consent to searches. When asked if an officer can search your car, you have a right to say, “I don’t consent to searches.”
4. Don’t get tricked into waiving your rights.
5. Ask if you are being detained. Politely. Say, “Are you detaining me or am I free to go.”
NOBLE’s leaders say they are speaking up to help improve relationships between police officers and citizens, particularly black males. They also advise never running away from police and never touching a cop. They also said it’s important to report a police officer who has mistreated them or violated their rights.
This discussion yesterday at the University of Illinois Springfield, I hope, is one of hundreds or thousands that is occurring in small sessions around the country. NOBLE is taking the video to a community meeting here in Springfield tomorrow.