by Melanie Jongsma
LANSING, Ill. (July 17, 2020) – The Village Board’s July 14 Committee of the Whole meeting included a report from Lansing Police Chief Dennis Murrin on the department’s response to four demands that were presented at the June 13 peaceful protest organized by Concerned Citizens for Lansing, IL.
Those demands were voiced by Tre’sean Hall at the event, and they included forming a citizens review board, implementing a “Duty to Intervene” policy, banning chokeholds, and making available the educational video that had been created as part of a Memorandum of Understanding that was signed in July of 2018. Hall had ended his speech by saying, “I really hope that the Mayor, the Village and elected officials, and the Lansing Police Department really take our demands seriously.”
The demands were also repeated during the Public Comment portion of the June 16 Village Board meeting—one resident commented in person at the meeting, while 16 others emailed their comments.
In his report on July 14, Chief Murrin referred to those members of the public who had shared their concerns. “I want to assure them that their voices were heard by the police department,” he said.
Murrin reported that the video is now available on the Village website. He explained that the video had not been widely available earlier because the original intention was for it to be used as part of the curriculum at TF South, and it made sense for TF South staff and students to be the first to see it. COVID-19 altered the school’s plans for using the video. Rather than delay its public release any longer, Murrin reported that the Village has posted it in the LNN section of the Village website. (The direct link to the video on LNN’s YouTube channel is https://youtu.be/l5fY9MyIGNE.)
With regard to the Duty to Intervene policy, Chief Murrin reported, “We got to work fairly quickly on this because, yeah, it was a good idea.” The department researched examples of other Duty to Intervene policies and put together a similar document that now needs to be reviewed by command-level personnel prior to adoption. The policy, if adopted, would mandate “that our officers have a duty to intervene when they are present and witness another officer using force clearly beyond that which is objectively reasonable under the circumstances,” explained Murrin. The policy also requires officers to report any agency conduct they observe that is unethical or in violation of law or department policy.
With regard to the Lansing Police Department’s policy regarding chokeholds, Murrin explained that this policy is derived from current state law and uses exactly the same wording. “Should there become some federal reforms or state reforms in the future, we’ll be glad to revisit that,” he committed, “if the abolishment of that comes into play in the federal or state level.”
The final demand, regarding a citizen review board that would make recommendations to police about operations, Murrin said is still a work in progress.
“That gives you kind of an update on where we went following the last Board meeting,” concluded Murrin. “We did take the information from that young gentleman seriously.”
- Peacefully protesting for change (June 2020 article)
- Online Exclusive: Village, LPD, and TF south finish video on police interactions (January 2020 article)
- Reaching an understanding (October 2018 article about the Memorandum of Understanding)
- Lansing Police Department MOU progress report (This is a report detailing progress on agreements arrived at in the Memorandum of Understanding. The initial progress report was published in February 2019, six months after the agreement. Updates were added at the one-year point—August 2019—and again at two years—July 2020.)
- Lansing residents, police, and government discuss solutions (August 2017 article)