Police advisory committee listens to concerns - WEEK.com: Peoria-area News, Weather, Sports

Police advisory committee listens to concerns

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Dr. Rita Ali, (Chair of the Advisory Committee on Police-Community Relations), Asst. Peoria Police Chief Loren Marion Dr. Rita Ali, (Chair of the Advisory Committee on Police-Community Relations), Asst. Peoria Police Chief Loren Marion

Relations between the public and Peoria Police were the topic of a meeting Thursday night at City Hall. 
It involved the Advisory Committee on Police-Community relations.

The group meets each month to hear concerns, then takes them back to the police department.

Many of the evening's questions were about the Daniel El shooting and couldn't be answered as the investigation is ongoing, but the Assistant Police Chief Loren Marion was there to hear those concerns, which rang, loud and clear.

"How can we as members of society, the public, trust that police are not mishandling other members of the public?" asked Keri Hayes, Co-Founder of the 'Black Justice Project.' Hayes went on to list various incidents where she believed Peoria Police did not conduct themselves properly. 

Safety, transparency, abuse of power and trust were among a lengthy list of topics addressed during the meeting as one by one people stood up to speak to the board and Asst. Chief Marion.

"Where was  the gun found in relation to the victim?" said one man, referencing the Eddie Russell Jr. case.
"What is your code of conduct as far as being pulled over for a license plate sticker?" asked another man.
"Is this a police issued shirt?" asked another, as he pointed to a picture of a Peoria Police officer sporting a tee that read "Baby Daddy Removal Team" on the back.

Concerns ranged from past incidents to current investigations, where the latter, left many questions unanswered.  

Marion had to remind attendees that because Illinois State Police investigates cases involving his own men, he could not respond. That reality still didn't sit well with some, who displayed frustration.

As for inquiries about the PPD officer with the offensive slogan on his shirt, Marion said his department does not condone the behavior, but because it's a personnel issue, he again could not address it, beyond stating that it's under investigation. Heads began to turn and hums of disapproval could be heard as the man who brought up the issue, alerted them that the picture remains online.

Marion told 25 News the situation calls into question the officer's first amendment rights and he could give answers once the investigation is complete.

Reverend Marcus Fogliano, a committee member stated that it would help the community limit their frustration toward police if they understood how things worked, citing several reasons why the board requested the department's Code of Conduct.

"There are things that we as citizens see and we perceive as an abuse of power that might not be the case and I think that the more we know about policies and procedures, the more we can understand them." Fogliano said.

But of all the suggestions given at the meeting, for example, more positive interactions with officers or more officers who live in the community they serve, Dr. Rita Ali, the committee chair, said there's still a step missing. 

"They don't complain by going to the police department to file a formal complaint...a written complaint. You can even do it online now." she explained.

It's a process that Marion welcomed and said his department does address. "Everyone has room for improvement. nobody's perfect. As far as the training. that's something that we continually work on." said Marion.

He also acknowledged that while tensions exist with some community members toward police, he thinks that's just one part of the city and doesn't necessarily reflect how all residents in Peoria feel.

Marion said he would look into the issues brought up at the meeting.

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