It was a very tumultuous weekend here in the 67th district between protestors and law enforcement. Honestly, it feels as though we took some steps away healing. Blame was placed and thrown around throughout the weekend. I do not need to reiterate what happened because we saw it on social media, the news and yesterday’s front-page photo.
Emotions are high – my emotions were high and after reflection I come to you from a place of perspective and not emotions – on top of that, I come to you after observation and communication offline to speak to you with substance. With words we all need to hear, not just words that people want to hear.
As I thought about how to address what is happening in our community. I thought of two words that came up in some of my most recent community connections segments:
Community empowerment. Power given to the community.
Last week the Rockford police department issued a statement concerning their findings for what happened on May 30th and two things bother me.
- Punching kicking and shoving are considered justifiable use of force
- These findings were found based on investigations controlled by the police – police policing the police.
We will never move forward towards trust and community empowerment if we do not step away from police policing the police. That is why I support the concept of a citizen’s oversight board that the NAACP Rockford branch and other community organizations have been working on and I implore mayor McNamara and our city council members to work urgently to implement this for the sake of … community empowerment.
Resisting arrest must have a clearer definition. … right now, it does not take into consideration the subjective concept of self-defense, officer use of excessive force, or whether or not the officer announced themselves as a law enforcement officer. Body cameras can assist in defining that, and the city is making steps towards body cams and I urge them to prioritize this initiative.
As State Representative, while I may not have oversight of the police or sheriff departments, I do have direct oversight in making laws that promote community empowerment.
Legislation that I have filed:
⁃ HB3958: mandate crisis intervention training for all law enforcement officers. This is for the safety of the community members and law enforcement officers.
⁃ HB2504: prohibit the destruction of any law enforcement complaints, investigations, and adjudications of misconduct. Right now, all of that can go away after 4 years.
⁃ HB5807: end no knock warrants (Breonna Taylor’s law)
Ideas that I look forward to working on and researching more thoroughly:
⁃ Expand the statewide misconduct database. Requiring law enforcement agencies to have an internet website for public records of police officers and allow the public to file citizen complaints; also, to include annual reporting, and comprehensive information relating to use of force settlements and judgments.
⁃ Work with the city of Rockford to be a best practice for the rest of the state in mandating and requiring community oversight boards and community input programs.
⁃ Working with the county board to implement a civilian bill of rights.
⁃ Require bond to be accessible 24/7 – no exceptions.
But that’s just the start. Community empowerment is all about the community so, will you join me in bringing forth legislative changes for the sake of transparency, accountability, equality. My email is below – reach out with any ideas that you have.
Now more than ever, we have to work together for a common goal for everyone: to unify our city, our state. As we work together to change laws, let’s also work together to change culture. I’m committed to this, and I hope you are too.
Maurice West, IL Representative, 67th District