GENEVA – The Kane County Board approved a resolution Monday in support of police and police reforms in the light of the death of George Floyd at the hands of police on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minn.
The resolution calls for banning choke-holds, or applying force to the head or neck of a person, police accountability, a process for officers to speak up or intervene if they observer unlawful activity amongst other officers, de-escalation of volatile situations be prioritized and body-worn cameras would increase transparency and public trust.
The vote was 22-1 with Board member Thomas Koppie, R-Huntley voting no after arguing against it. Board member Clifford Surges, R-Gilberts was absent.
“Sheriff (Ron) Hain had put out a press release on how he was going to conduct his affairs in regards to this type of engagement,” Koppie said.
“For the Kane County Board – or anybody else for that matter – to meddle in those efforts I don’t think would bring positive results,” Koppie said. “George Floyd did not die of a choke. He died of a heart attack.”
According to a video of his death, Floyd died while a police officer knelt on his neck for more than eight minutes.
Koppie said there were instances of police brutality, but it was a small percentage of officers who engage in it.
Koppie said for board members to interpret rules of engagement for officers when the people they may deal with have no such rules puts officers in an unsafe environment.
“We should not pursue this – not without a lot of discussion,” Koppie said.
Board member Jarett Sanchez, D-Carpentersville, said the resolution came through the Judicial and Public Safety Committee, of which he is a member.
Sanchez said Board member Mohammad “Mo” Iqbal, D-Elgin, worked closely with Hain on the resolution.
“Sheriff Hain had already gone away from using choke holds in order to restrain somebody in the field,” Sanchez said. “I think … your concerns about our boys causing anyone to have a heart attack in the field are not well-founded. And you don’t have to worry about this resolution. Sheriff Hain’s behind it.”
Board member Monica Silva, D-Aurora, said while she appreciated Koppie’s desire to support police, she said situations of police brutality were not just one instance.
“I could provide you with the names of probably hundreds of situations around the country where this has happened,” Silva said. “I think the Black American community is watching us very closely. We need to really look at the issue. We are protecting our men and women in blue by giving them some sort of guideline, by giving them resources to de-escalate situations.”
Silva said giving police guidelines and support protects their lives as well.
Board member William Lenert, R-Sugar Grove, said the resolution does not enact any laws but merely shows support for police and police reform, as well as the ability to have internal and external investigations of police misconduct.
“I agree with it and I support it fully,” Lenert said. “And I also think it helps protect our men and women in blue.”
Board member Angela Thomas, D-Aurora, said it was the board’s responsibility to set the tone and the expectation for law enforcement in the county.
“I am so grateful that the sheriff recognizes that accountability – which the resolution speaks to,” Thomas said. “It only makes his department and his deputies better.”
Thomas said the fact that other officers stood by and witnessed the murder of George Floyd on the street speaks to the need for a process to intervene if officers "do not have sense as a mature adult to do so on their own.”
“But also, to let them know there will be consequences when you refuse to step up simply as a human being, let alone as an officer of the court to save someone’s life,” Thomas said.
“George Floyd was killed, Mr. Koppie. It took eight minutes and 46 seconds. And if you have not watched the tape, I invite you to do so. And the last time I checked, everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty.”