Skokie Police Use of Force Policy Community Review
On July 6, 2021, the Village Board unanimously approved the Public Safety Commission's recommendation on the Skokie Police Department Use of Force Policy.
In early 2020, Skokie Mayor George Van Dusen took the Obama Foundation’s Reimagining Policing Pledge and committed to taking four specific actions recommended by the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance (MBK) that is part of the Obama Foundation.
The pledge lists the following actions that are intended to examine public safety policies through an equity lens:
- REVIEW your police use of force policies.
- ENGAGE your communities by including a diverse range of input, experiences, and stories in your review.
- REPORT the findings of your review to your community and seek feedback.
- REFORM your community’s police use of force policies.
All of the Skokie Police Department’s policies and procedures are examined internally on an annual basis and also through the professional accreditation process, which the Skokie Police Department first received in 1988. The most recent of these reviews occurred in late 2019. The rigorous reaccreditation process included an opportunity for citizen comments on the Skokie Police Department’s practices, and also examined the Department’s compliance with 67 professional standards. The external, professional accreditation team identified no deficiencies.
For a number of years, the Skokie Police Department command staff has mandated that all personnel participate in training on non-discriminatory policing practices and the appropriate use of force. Skokie Police personnel participate in this training on an annual basis.
In June 2018, the Skokie Police Department adopted the Ten Shared Principles Resolution, developed in concert between the NAACP and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police to bridge the gap between the police and the community, an excerpt from which includes:
- We value the life of every person and consider life to be the highest value.
- All persons should be treated with dignity and respect. This is another foundational value.
- We reject discrimination toward any person that is based on race, ethnicity, religion, color, nationality, immigrant status, sexual orientation, gender, disability, or familial status.
The Skokie Police Department’s Use of Force policy is reviewed annually. At Mayor Van Dusen’s request, the 2020-2021 review was conducted by the volunteer members of the Village’s Public Safety Commission. Members of the Village’s Human Relations Commission also participated in the review process along with representatives of 16 community groups. See the project work plan for the community review of the Skokie Police Department's use of force policy and a list of participating community groups invited.
At the October 21, 2020 Public Safety Commission meeting, community members heard a presentation from the Skokie Police Department that included an overview of the current use of force policy, community policing and crime prevention programs.
The Public Safety Commission meetings from November 2020 through February 2021 included discussion sessions with the Public Safety Commission, participating Human Relations Commission members and staff from the Village’s Fire, Police and Public Works Departments, and the Village Manager’s Office, during which members of the community groups discussed and asked questions about the use of force policy. In March 2021, the Public Safety and Human Relations Commissioners held a discussion session with representatives of the Skokie Police Department. All meetings were virtual and open for the public to view live on the Village’s YouTube channel and on SkokieVision cable, channel 17 on Comcast systems and channel 25 on RCN. See a calendar of Public Safety Commission meetings.
A draft use of force policy community review recommendation was developed by a small working group of commissioners in May 2021. The draft was reviewed and refined at the May 19, 2021 Public Safety Commission meeting. A revised draft recommendation was posted on the Village website for public review and comment from May 21 through June 14, 2021. The Public Safety and Human Relations Commissioners reviewed the public comments received at the June 16, 2021 Public Safety Commission meeting. After additional modifications to the draft, the final recommendation was forwarded to the Village Board for consideration at its July 6, 2021 meeting. Public Safety and Human Relations Commissioners presented the recommendation to the Village Board, and after additional comments from a number of Skokie residents, the recommendation received unanimous approval from the Village Board.