City Desk          by Mayor Jeffrey T. Sherwin

Northlake Police Department Receives National and State Accreditation, Federal Use of Force Certification and Implements Body Cameras

The Northlake Police Department is currently staffed by 49 employees.  Thirty four of the employees are sworn certified police officers. The balance of the employees are civilian non-sworn personnel. Each of the sworn officers currently hold active and current police officer certification by the Illinois Law Enforcement Training Board.

The current structure of the Police Department consists of the Police Chief, 2 Deputy Chiefs, one Investigative Commander and six patrol sergeants. All command staff have extensive continuing training hours and leadership and management experience. Four of the six sergeants have received certified supervisory training through a 10 week course through Northwestern University. The fifth sergeant is currently completing this course and the sixth sergeant is scheduled for enrollment in 2021.

The Department responded to over 41,000 calls for service and traffic stops in 2019. The number is expected to drop slightly for 2020 due to the covid pandemic.

The civilian personnel are organized into three divisions – Code Enforcement, Communications and Records.  Each is led by a supervisor.

In 2002, the Department received national accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). This recognition is given to law enforcement agencies that have proven through policy and practice that they have met and adopted policies and practices which meet or exceed national standards recognized by the Commission which reflect excellence in policing as well as adherence to modern management concepts.  Approximately 18% of police agencies nationwide have achieved this status, and only 49 police departments in Illinois have achieved this recognition.

In November, 2020, the Northlake Police Department received Advanced Accreditation from CALE, and has held the Advanced Accreditation recognition for the past 7 years. To learn more about CALEA and its standards, go to CALEA.org.

The Department has successfully completed application for the Illinois Law Enforcement Accreditation program, with on site assessment scheduled for 2021.  Once Northlake achieves this level, our Department will be one of the very few Illinois or Cook County Departments to hold both national and state accreditation.

In early January, 2021, the Department met certification standards to achieve the Federal use of Force Certificate pursuant to the Executive order on Safe Policing for Safe Communities issued in June, 2020.  This will allow the Northlake Police Department access to the U.S. Justice Department’s grant funding program.

In January of this year, the Northlake Police Department implemented the use of body worn cameras. It is expected that all 34 patrol offices will be wearing the cameras.

The new system will automatically activate when an officer turns on the squad car’s emergency lights. The system also includes sensors on officers’ holsters, stun guns and rifle racks which will automatically activate any body camera within 50 feet in the event an officer reaches for one of these weapons. This will insure that the cameras are activated in these circumstands so the officer does not have to think about activating their body camera in these situations. There are also speed and crash sensors that will automatically activate the body worn cameras. The officer can not deactivate the camera unless they physically remove themselves from the scene.

The cameras can also be manually activated and officers must record any interaction with a civilian. The only exception is for crime victims who do not want to be recorded. The officer will let the person know they are being recorded and ask them if it’s okay to continue recording. If the crime victim says no, the camera will be turned off. All officers have received training on the use of the body cameras which is governed by State law. Our officers have been receptive to the new program which will strengthen the department’s relationship with the community through increased transparency and accountability.

The following is the time line for additional steps taken to improve the Northlake Police Department:

2009: Police move into new, state of the art Police Station, funding for which was approved by the voters in a referendum;

2015: Framework to implement President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing adopted;

2015; Posting of annual Citizen Complaints on City’s webpage starts;

2015: Recruitment begins of citizens of diverse backgrounds to participate in police panel group;

2016: Citizen review panel formed. Northlake Police Accountability Project review and makes recommendations on use of force, citizen complaints, police pursuits and police stops;

2018: The Accountability Project group received recognition by the Illinois Chiefs of Police Association;

2018: Department formally adopts shared principals with NAACP and IACP;

2019: Department adopts the National use of Force of Force Data Collection Policy and reports Use of Force monthly;

2020: Use of Force and other policy posted on City webpage;

2020: All citizen complaints and results posted on City’s webpage;

2020: De-escalation policy enhanced to a stand alone four page policy.

 

In addition, the use of chokeholds, except in cases where deadly force would be allowed, has been prohibited since the early 2000’s. Current policy is in compliance with current CALEA policy. The Department has also amended its written pursuit policy in 2015 to prohibit pursuits of non-felony violations.

Police reform continues to be an ongoing effort requiring the investment of resources for training, state of the art equipment (such as the body cameras) and continue refinement and enhancement of policies and procedures.

We are fully committed to this effort.

 

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