PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Nationwide outrage followed the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Floyd struggled to breathe under the knee of former Minneapolis Police Department Officer Derek Chauvin. Now, communities are crying out for change, even here in Peoria.
Young Revolution is a group of young adults that have organized rallies in Peoria for social justice and racial equality. Mariah Cooley, the group’s chief of staff, said Floyd’s death impacted her mentally.
“It can take a toll on your mental health see someone of your own skin color be murdered on national television,” Cooley said.
‘8 Can’t Wait’ is a police reform initiative that has been drawing traction in the call for justice and an end to police brutality. The initiative caught the attention of the Young Revolution. Now they are asking the Peoria Police Department to act accordingly.
Speak up and speak out if you want change you have to go get change if you want policies put in place you have to propose them.Mariah Cooley, Young Revolution, Chief of Staff
The eight demands are as follows:
- Ban the use of choke holds and strangleholds
- Mandatory de-escalation training
- Require police to give a verbal warning before use of deadly force
- Require that all forms of nonviolent and less lethal force are used before having to use a gun
- Require officers to intervene when use of force is use and require them to report it to their supervisor immediately
- Ban shooting at moving vehicles
- Establish a force continuum where the most severe force is restricted for the most severe cases and have clear policy restrictions on the use of each weapon
- Require officers to report each time they use force or threaten to use force against a civilian and make that information available to the public
Chief Loren Marion with the Peoria Police Department responded to these demands Tuesday night at the Peoria City Council meeting. He said the department’s code aligns with the majority of the demands and the department will be working to change the rules that do not.
In response to demand (1), Marion said the state of Illinois has a statute that prohibits the chokehold by an officer.
720-ILCS5/7-5.5 in the state code reads, ” A peace officer shall not use a chokehold in the performance of his or her duties unless deadly force is justified under article seven of this code.”
Marion said a choke hold means applying any direct pressure to the throat wind pipe or airway of another with the intent to reduce or prevent the intake of air.
“After Illinois banned choke holds our trainers began instructing officer not to use them unless as a deadly force situation,” Marion said.
In response to demand (2), Marion said in 2018, the department started an annual training for officers in reference to de-escalation. “Our officers de-escalate every day on the different calls they’re on, we just don’t really hear about those calls,” he said.
Responding to demand (3), Marion said verbal direction is the first step. “Our general order state’s that level one is verbal direction and that requires the officer to give verbal warning when possible before using deadly force,” he said.
Chief Marion agrees with demand (4), but says there are stipulations. “If someone is shooting at me I do not have to go through the levels of the use of force continuum before I respond back with deadly force,” he said.
In response to demand (5), Marion said the department is in the process of tightening up the rule referencing intervention on scene. He said that wording will be added to their general order.
In response to demand (6) Marion said, “The firing of shots from a moving vehicle is prohibited unless objectively reasonable considering the totality of circumstances.”
In response to demand (7), Marion said in 2015 the use of force platform was initiated. Documentation from use of force, a supervisor assessment and board review are required.
In response to demand (8), Marion said supervisors respond to all use of force, the use of force board reviews incidents and if there is a deadly force situation the department calls in the Illinois State Police to conduct the investigation.
Marion also mentioned that officers intentionally point a fire-arm at a person for purposes of compliance such as felony stops or room-search during incidents of felony activity. He said these incidents are all documented.
Council woman Rita Ali asked Chief Marion about the use of a taser. Marion said a taser is one of the levels of use of force.
“The law states that when you apply the taser each time you pull the trigger that is an additional use of force so if you pull the trigger and they comply you cannot use additional force,” he said.
Young revolution said they are happy the chief responded to their demands, but they will hold the Peoria Police Department accountable.