By Dan Campana
After four years of conversations aimed at rebuilding the relationship between law enforcement and minority communities, the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and the Illinois NAACP State Conference announced Thursday a first-of-its-kind resolution which identifies common ground principles centered on civil rights and citizen safety.
The agreement includes 11 points designed to “bridge the gap of mistrust between police and communities of color,” officials said. Those key areas – which include community policing, de-escalation training, department diversity and rejecting discrimination – were identified in conversations that first began between association leaders in 2014 following explosive tension in Ferguson, Missouri.
The dialogue, with a goal of forging a partnership to ensure safety, dignity and justice for citizens and police officers, continued in recent years during joint gatherings held around the state featuring “World Café” conversations on topics of mutual concern and also “Let’s Talk” sessions at each association’s annual conferences in 2016 and 2017.
“The more we work together, the more we understand that we all want the same thing: to live in safe communities where everyone has the opportunity to live out the American Dream and live up to our potential,” ILACP President and Oak Brook Police Chief James Kruger said. “In order to do that, both law enforcement and all the people we serve need to broaden our sense of community, rebuild trust and commit to shared values.”
Added Illinois NAACP President Teresa Haley, “The ‘Let’s Talk’ and World Café sessions have greatly enhanced conversations and paved the way for development of a set of shared principles designed to foster and build trust between communities of color and police agencies.”
In calling the agreement “historic” and unprecedented in the nation, officials with each association expressed optimism about fulfilling their shared responsibility to build trust and nurture relationships on the state and local level. The work will continue as they plan to spread the word about the agreement’s principles at future meetings around Illinois.
The ILACP and Illinois NAACP’s Shared Principles announced Thursday:
- Value the life of every person, the preservation of life being the highest value
- Recognize that all persons should be treated with dignity and respect
- Reject discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, color, nationality, immigrant status, sexual orientation, gender, disability, or familial status
- Endorse the six pillars of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing including the first pillar of building trust and legitimacy
- Endorse the four pillars of procedural justice, which are fairness, voice, transparency and impartiality
- Endorse the values inherent in community policing, which includes positive engagement between community and police
- Develop relationships at the leadership and street levels to eliminate racial tension
- Accept mutual responsibility to encourage all citizens to gain a better understanding of the law to assist in interactions with police
- Increase diversity in police departments and in the law enforcement profession
- Commit to de-escalation training to ensure the safety of community members and police officers, and
- Commit to replacing mistrust with mutual trust wherever, whenever and however possible