Police review committee to pass along new recommendations

Local News
champaign city council_1534279412904.jpg.jpg

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — Come Monday, Champaign’s Human Relations Commission will provide input and feedback on a new set of recommendations from the city’s Citizen Police Review Subcommittee.

The group — founded in 2016 and tasked with “promoting professionalism and accountability of the Champaign Police Department” as well as making policy recommendations — drafted a nine-page document aimed at creating changes that reinforce the fact the Black lives matter, according to the proposal.

“The Champaign Citizen Review Subcommittee (CCRS) cannot begin to complete our mission unless our city code and police department policy reflect this fact,” the proposal states. “The recent murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of police officers emphasize the urgent need for change.”

The document includes additions and amendments for CPD policy; changes to the bargaining agreement with the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police; a request to “study the impact of the Student Resource Officer program in Unit 4 schools,” among other things.

Some of the changes are aimed at empowering the Subcommittee, allowing, for instance, members to have “access to complaints made against the officers under review in the last five years.”

The “improved transparency… might allow Commissioners to observe patterns in an officer’s record,” the proposal says.

Also along the empowerment line is a request to allow those who file complaints against CPD officers a change to participate in the process they’ve initiated. As it stands, the proposal says, “the complaint investigation and hearing process has no meaningful opportunities for complainant or officer participation.”

Among other policy changes included is the elimination of a timeframe in which someone has to file a complaint. As of January 1, that timeframe was 60 days from the date in which the incident occurred, according to subcommittee minutes.

“This (elimination) was included in our 2019 recommendations, and the Department has the opportunity to again expand that window,” the proposal says.

The recommendations also call for 10 percent of police funding to be redirected toward a pilot program that “better responds to community mental health needs.” That funding amount hit around $26 million in 2020, and a budget for 2021 suggests that funding could be increased by 6 percent.

The CCRS has observed that an outsized number of complaints are marked by a mental health condition noted by the complainant or an officer or sergeant on the scene,” the proposal says. “Such a program should have two facets; (a) a co-responder program that pairs police officers with mental-health professionals to help people on the verge of suicide or addressing other emotional crises in the course of a shift, and (b) a 24/7 service team of medic and crisis workers to be dispatched to non-criminal crises involving people experiencing mental illness problems, substance abuse and homelessness.”

The proposal draft includes several other recommendations — including the city council calling a study session on whether school resource officers should be removed from Unit 4 schools due to a disparate racial divide on who is arrested at school — and can be read in its entirety below.

Human Relations Commission members are currently in the process of reviewing the draft; on Monday night, they’ll offer feedback and potential revisions during a meeting that will be available for public attendance via Zoom.

From there, the subcommittee will take a vote on approving the recommendations before sending them for submission to Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb, as well as City Council members.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.