Police Department Overview of Polices, Practices

Police Department Provides Overview of Policies, Practices
Posted on 06/17/2020
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In response to recent dialogue about police reform following the tragic death of George Floyd at the hands of former Minneapolis Police Officers, the Arlington Heights Police Department provided an overview of its policies, practices and training at a recent Village Board meeting.
“Best practice policies guide the Arlington Heights Police Department and holds us to a high standard,” according to Arlington Heights Police Chief Nicholas Pecora. One of the reasons for providing an overview of the department’s policies and procedures is to make the community aware that the Arlington Heights Police Department already has best practices in place and to reiterate that the department continues to do the right thing while providing high quality services in protecting the public. Learn more about the Police Department’s mission and relative General Orders by viewing the Department's page of the Village’s website.

Furthermore, Police Chief Pecora provided a message to the community immediately following the death of George Floyd that read, in part, “I stand with other dedicated law enforcement leaders across the United State and denounce the excessive use of force shown on the viral video involving the unnecessary treatment of George Floyd by a former Minneapolis Police Officer.” He also asked that the community not judge or categorize all loyal and skilled police officers as more of the same.

Chief Pecora emphasizes that the Police Department values impartial and unbiased policing and view it as a critical cornerstone for upholding professional ethics in law enforcement. All persons having contact with any member of the Department shall be treated in a fair, equitable, and objective manner, in accordance with the law, and without consideration of their race, ethnic background, age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, economic status, or any other identifiable group as defined by Department Policy.

Upcoming Public Community Discussion on Diversity and Inclusion
A virtual, public Community Discussion on issues of diversity and inclusion will be planned by Village staff and the Police Department within the next few weeks. The discussion will include governmental partners such as school districts, the library and park district. More information on the meeting will be publicized soon. This discussion is in keeping with the Village Board’s 2020-2021 goal of “Finding New ways to Embrace Diversity within the Community and the Village Government.” 

Nationally Accredited Police Department
Since 2008, the Police Department has been nationally accredited by CALEA, the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, which requires a law enforcement agency to meet over 480 standards that focus on the best outcomes in the delivery of police services. 

The Arlington Heights Police is one of only 4.5 percent of law agencies nationwide that has this accreditation. To annually maintain accreditation, a police department undergoes consistent internal and external reviews, combined with third party validation of the department’s policies and procedures. This is critical in the delivery of high-quality public safety services and it promotes accountability among all police officers and the agency.

In addressing citizens’ concerns that have been voiced since the egregious act of a former Minneapolis police officer, the Arlington Heights Police Department provides an overview of some of its key practices. The Department has multiple polices, which are reviewed annually for possible enhancements, that direct officers on how and when to respond to resistance. These policies meet all CALEA-related standards.

Response to Resistance Order

  • The Department’s 21-page Response to Resistance policy (known as Use of Force policy in other agencies), which meets all of the CALEA best practice standards, emphasizes de-escalation techniques in order to minimize the potential for injury or response with lethal force as the Police Department values the preservation of all human life.

  • Language regarding the duty to intervene was recently added to the policy as a way to prevent any potential uses of excessive force.

  • The Department also conducts an investigation on all incidents where force is applied or if there is a complaint made by the public. An annual analysis is conducted on all response to resistance instances to determine if there are any patterns or training deficiencies.

  • The order also addresses other common citizen concerns recently expressed regarding the ban of chokeholds and strangleholds, requiring de-escalation, requiring warning before shooting, exhausting all other means before shooting, banning shooting at moving vehicles, establishing a use of force continuum, require comprehensive reporting, establish an independent audit regarding any shortcomings within the department (this is a key element of the CALEA accreditation process.)

Watch the video of the recent Village Board meeting where Police Chief Pecora provides an overview of the department’s policies, procedures and training. 

Training Programs
The Police Department has a robust training plan that takes into account mandatory training sessions based on state statute, adhering to best practices in policing, training personnel for potential leadership openings and more.

  • The Department invested in a VirTra stimulator which is a judgmental use of force and decision-making training simulator designed to teach, test and system officers’ knowledge and skills. The Department is one of only three agencies in northern Illinois to have a simulator.

  • 1,743 training classes were attended by Department personnel in 2019 – which equates to 6,000 hours of instruction. Much of the training provided follows recommendations of the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board which certifies law officers and promotes a high level of professional standards for law enforcement. 

Officers participate in additional monthly training sessions provided by the Illinois Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board, which includes programs on:
Cultural Competency
Human Rights
Legal Updates
Procedural Justice
Civil Rights
Constitutional and proper use of authority
Response to Resistance

Public Safety Partnerships
Additional Police programs and training include involvement in various partnerships with outside staff or agencies involved in various social health aspects such as

  • VOCA – Victim Services Coordinator, a licensed counselor who works in the Police Department to assist victims of crimes.

  • One Mind Campaign organized by the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police – this program trains law enforcement how to respond to persons affected by mental illness. 20 percent of sworn Arlington Heights police officers have crisis intervention team training. Two police officers are certified in Mental Health First Aid and provide additional training to police staff.

  • Northern Illinois Benchmarking Cooperative which is a collaboration of several communities that compares strategies and data to identify best practices.

  • Community Addiction and Recovery Effort, a Village partnership with trained professionals who deal with persons suffering from addiction.

  • Northwest Suburban Law Enforcement Recruitment Taskforce, a 7-community workgroup, started by Arlington Heights to examine and work to eliminate barriers to minorities and other non-traditional applicants from seeking careers in law enforcement. 

Next Steps
In addition to hosting a Community Discussion on issues of diversity, the Police Department will continue its work to move some the already public documents to the Village’s website and reviewing what other documentation can be ready for public view.

The department will also continue to monitor and make any necessary changes based on new laws from the State or Federal Governments. Above all, the department will continue to be responsive to the public’s and Village’s need.