Community Relations Commission ~ Minutes ~ City Hall, Second Floor Rockford, IL Meeting

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Rockford, IL 61104


Thursday, August 20, 2020


Attendee Name Organization Title Status Arrived

Todd Burton City of Rockford Present

Eric Brown City of Rockford Present

Jurea Crudup City of Rockford Present Victoria De La Rosa City of Rockford Present Erin Hannigan City of Rockford Present Nikki Lynch City of Rockford Present William Martin City of Rockford Present Ricardo Montoya Picazo City of Rockford Present Charles Prorok City of Rockford Present

Jay Ware City of Rockford Present


Commissioner Hannigan addressed a couple of things prior to the Public Speakers. She stated that the Commission has not been following procedures, they have not been following Robert's Rules of Order. Today they will do their best to follow that. The Agenda has changed according to the Rules of Procedure that the Commission adopted in October of 2019, that they have not been following. After roll call there will be a Motion to Suspend some of the Rule of Procedure for tonight's meeting that relates to public speaking. There are several rules in regards to public speaking that everyone is aware of. The first rule is there is a five minute limit per speaker. The second rule is only five speakers can speak at a Sub-Committee meeting, and the third rule is a requirement to sign up, if you want to speak by 3:00 p.m. the day of the meeting.

Commissioner Hannigan informed everyone there would be a Motion to suspend those rules for the meeting to ensure that the people who were there, would be able to speak. After today's meeting the Commission will be following their Rules of Procedure.

Commissioner Burton made a MOTION to SUSPEND the Rules of Procedure.

Skye Gia Garcia stated that there was going to be a Dana that was scheduled to speak tonight, but last Friday there was an officer from Winnebago County Sheriff's

Department tried to illiegally detain her. That officer failed, so as a result the officer issued a warrant for this persons arrest, stripping her of her ability to come here and tell you her story of being assaulted by four different officers at one time. She states it is clear to her that the police in this city want war. Her advice is for this Commission to be prepared for the Mayor to turn down any type of report that dis-empowers the police.


Jane Doe stated that he found it highly disappointing that the Commission has re-instated the Rules of Procedure and limited public speakers. He feels it is a hurdle for people to come and speak. He stated over the past few meeting it has been wonderful for people to come in and discuss things and interact with the commissioners.

Christopher Sims stated that in regards to Dana, you can see on his facebook page a police officer running after her. That is public record, evidence and he hopes to see justice served.


A. General Discussion: Use of Force Policy

Commissioner Hannigan stated several weeks ago, when they had their second meeting this sub-committee was asked to send her questions as to Use of Force, and any training or policy questions. As discussed last week the questions are more policy questions, Chief O'Shea is there to answer some of the questions they had regarding policies.

The first question the Commission asked was regarding chokehold. Chief O'Shea explained that chokeholds to the police would be putting your forearm across the front and crushing the windpipe. That is a chokehold in our world. He stated what is more common in the police world is the LVNR which is a Lateral vascular neck restraint which is what people are talking about when they say chokehold across the country. They will see and officer come up behind, sometimes it is called a sleeper hold or a Kansas City takedown, among other things. The City of Rockford Police Department Training Division does not teach those as a defensive tactic. They have not been taught the chokehold in over twenty years in the department. He stated in policing, and you can take this statement going forward for every Use of Force Policy, there is not one way possible that you can come across everything an officer can possibly encounter in his or her career and account for it.

Chief O'Shea stated to put the word never or shall not is a very finite word. Example; an officer does not have his or her weapon, taser, OC spray, handcuffs, they don't have anything left, and they are in an alley tusseling for their life, with one, two, three or five people, and they are the only officer. If he was that officer and he has it in his head that he can never put a chokehold on someone, and its beat into your head that you can never fire a warning shot. If you say never or shall not without a caveat of if your life or someone else's life is in danger, that is a bad general order and a bad standard to have. Putting it in there that you will never use a chokehold or and LVNR without absolute need for deadly force, that is the way to caveat that. If you want to put that in front of they will never use chokeholds, that is fantastic. They don't teach them, they don't use them, cops don't use them as an arrest technique, they don't use them as a take down technique, they are not trained that way. To say never is very finite. If you are going to put a policy in place, and you are not going to follow that policy under


all circumstances, don't write that policy. Ban a chokehold is very finite, put a caveat in place that states unless your life is on the line or the person you are trying to save, life is on the line, and all other measures are exhausted. The neck and above is pretty much deadly force area for policing no matter what. Every time the trainers, instructor, teach the neck and up, those are big no-no's, unless you are going to cause serious bodily injury or deadly force as authorized.

Chief O'Shea stated the department is open to suggestions and ideas from the Commission and the public. They base their policies on a lot of research from a lot of big organizations, the International Chief's of Police, the Police Executive Research Foundation (PERF). They put a lot of time, money and research into all of these things, an we bleed our policies from those, as well as from the Illinois Statutes. Chief O'Shea stated he believes there are departments that have banned chokeholds, but does not know which ones. City of Rockford Police Department does not teach chokeholds or utilize them. He stated that officers have to think on their feet, and again there are situations, every incident, every day, every office has to make quick, fast decisions, and there is no one that is, if this happens, then this happens. There are so many things that can go a million different directions for an officer. If they have a baseball bat and have to break a window to get a child out, they were not taught that, it is common sense, and they have to be able to think on their feet.

Chief O'Shea sated the reason there is no Continuum of Force in the Use of Force Policy is the department moved away from the Continuum because the

department wanted to be in line with the United States Supreme Courts view on Use of Force, therefore Graham v. Connor has been the guide for how the

department teaches Use of Force and it teaches what reasonable force is. Graham v. Connor is the Use of Force, it came from the Supreme Court, they have to follow the Countries laws and the State laws, first and foremost and that dictates a lot of their policies. The Continuum of Force was developed in the mid 1970's and at the time it was developed to: if a person does this, an officer needs to do this to overpower them, or if they do this, then the officer needs to do this to overpower them, so that the police are on top and can effect an arrest. Today it is called critical decision making (CDM). PERF wrote about critical decision making models and it is pretty much what the departments training officers teach. He stated what really changed here with the Continuum is suicide by cop; you call the police, you have a knife, the officer gets there, you have a knife, the officer has a taser, with the Continuum, if the taser doesn't work, go to lethal force. That isn't taught anymore, especially with the mental health issues that are prevalent everywhere across the country. Officers are taught to think, to de-escalate, try to keep time and distance to make it a non-lethal force, non-taser incident. They do not want to take a life, they do not want to use deadly force especially, they do not train to do that, so now they do the time, distance, keep objects between them, and they try to talk the person through whatever they have on their mind. Continuum's said to do this, this and this, and you kept going up the continuum, that is old, and proven antiquated thinking. Critical decision making models which is what they teach has been in place since the mid 2000's. Officers are taught now to think on


their feet, use time and distance and try to get away from what is going on with the person with the weapon. Officers have to justify pointing a weapon at someone and showing use of force at somebody. Officer's are taught that if you pull your firearm, and point it at someone, they are in a deadly force situation. Chief O'Shea stated that officers are trained to assess the situation they are in, there is so much that goes into that, the weather is a factor, where they are at, the time, distance, what is that person holding, is there someone else in the room. Officers are assessing everything as they are dealing with any situation. They want officers to think on their feet, make good decisions, based on all the factors they are facing. Officers are taught reasonable decision making, and

de-escalation, that is what their trainers teach.

Chief O'Shea stated that they have spent a lot of time, money and effort hiring and training police officers to be very respectful of the citizens of the City of

Rockford. Police officers have a huge amount of discretion, and with the huge amount of interaction they have deal, also comes a huge amount of responsibility, which is why they spend the time, effort and money to train the officers. They stick with what the law says, the Supreme Court is the be all and end all in their world, and when they push it out, written that way, that's what they stick with.

Chief O'Shea stated that he is completely comfortable with the policies they have and they use them based off of International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Illinois Accreditation System, and they also use PERF.

Chief O'Shea stated the way officers respond to Mental Health calls is a complete 180 from what it was twenty five years ago. Officers are dealing with mental health crisis so much more every day than they used to have to. The police department has changed how they respond to those incidents. They will change again when the funding becomes available from the Mental Health Tax. One department, the Chief is not sure which one, put a mental health care worker in the car with officers responding to calls, and that was a great idea, and that has caught fire across the country. Someone has thought of a new way to do something, that is going to change how they operate and change their policy.

Chief O'Shea stated there are different levels of discipline, there is training, there is discipline, there is termination. It will depend on the severity of the incident, the type of force used, was it a training failure, was it an officer failure. Did the officer knowingly violate the policy and procedures? Every time the Rockford Police officers use force, they are one of the few agencies he knows of, that everything above standard handcuffing, has to be documented in a Blue Team Report. Every use of force from every officer is documented. Use of force against an officer, from the perpetrator they are arresting

is also documented. Discipline can be verbal reprimands, written reprimands, it can be suspension, it can be termination. Chief O'Shea has the power to fire officers per their Collective Bargaining Agreement, however they do have a right to appeal to an Arbitrator, and the Arbitrator has the decision making power to overturn the Chief's decision.


Chief O'Shea stated that the Police and Fire Commission hires and promotes police officers and fire fighters. Under state law they would have the ability for termination hearing for police officers, but Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) signed off years ago for it to go to an arbitrator. The arbitrator is the end all, be all for the officers covered by the CBA. Those not covered by the CBA, the Police and Fire Commission have state law behind them to answer for that. As far as civilian oversight, that is the end of it right there. There is no Civilian oversight beyond that.

Chief O'Shea stated for shooting at moving vehicles, there is no way they can account for what an officer could run into, might run into at some point in their career. They don't shoot at moving vehicles because they are driving away from traffic stops, that is not what they are teaching. To ban shooting at moving vehicles is not a good idea, you just do not know when an officer might need to do that in their career.

Chief O'Shea stated it is written in their policy 1.06ii, end of paragraph, personnel shall de-escalate force to a lesser level when the officer reasonably believes that the lesser level of force becomes appropriate. Chief O'Shea stated that they could put into a written order to de-escalate a situation so that officers do not have to use force. The officers are trained to use their mouth to talk things out long before they use their fists.

Chief O'Shea indicated that police officers have been taught to give a warning, where feasible prior to using deadly force. In Tennessee v. Garner, the Supreme Court ruled under the fourth amendment that a police officer may not use deadly force against a fleeing, unarmed suspect. The fact that the suspect does not respond to commands to halt does not authorize officers to shoot. He stated that this is taught under Tennessee v. Garner. Officers are taught de-escalation and to use their mouths long before their fists, their hands and anything else that an officer carries. When an officer gets to a scene, the critical decision making comes in, they are taking in everything around them, the entire environment, the behavior of the person, the reason for dealing with the suspect. The ability to not escalate. Officers try to do everything they can to get compliance first, before they go into using force.

Chief O'Shea stated that when he came to the Police Department in 2016, Sergeants and Lieutenants were able to hand out discipline. He stated he had a problem with that because he had to answer for it and wanted all discipline to go through his office. He has to answer for his officers to the public. Everything from a verbal reprimand on up goes through the Chief's office. The Chief makes decisions on all discipline.

Chief O'Shea stated that under 1.06 it is identified that officers may use deadly force only when the officer reasonably believes that the action is in defense of


human life, including the officers own life or the defense of another person in immediate danger of serious physical injury.

Chief O'Shea indicated personnel will use reasonable when force is used to accomplish lawful objectives, which is consistent with the law. The policy requires that the force option used is reasonably objective and not that the least assertive option be used.

Chief O'Shea stated that deadly force is the end all be all for a police officer and they are very specific when an officer can use it. It is only when the officer reasonably believes the actions, defense of human life, including the officers own life or in the defense of any person in imminent danger or serious physical injury.

Chief O'Shea indicated personnel should de-escalate force to a lesser level when an officer reasonably believes the lesser level of force is appropriate. Those are reasonable alternatives before an officer resorts to deadly force. The officer is going to de-escalate to a lesser level, which anything is lesser than deadly force.

Chief O'Shea stated the current CBA continues in existence until a new CBA is signed.

Chief O'Shea stated that the policy would be unbelievably thick if they tried to cover the training that the officers receive. A really good way to get an inside view of how the officers are trained and why they are trained that way is to go through the Citizens Police Academy, do a ride along with the officers. Going on a ride along will give those a really good insight why officers are trained they way they are and how the officers utilize and respond to their training and save

themselves from getting into brawls all the time.


Commissioner Alexander stated he has reached out, after the talks about the census to several organizations and several churches in the city and asked them to in their member updates and emails to stress the importance of completing their census for the city.