At a special Sept. 21 River Forest village board meeting to discuss equity and inclusion Police Chief James O’Shea and Commander Jim Greenwood talking offered their perspectives on equity as it relates to policing, including a recap of the policing forums recently held by the village. O’Shea began with a moving statement:

“We have our ears and eyes open to the realities or perceptions that both diverse and devalued populations have and want to share with us … We are here to further healthy dialogue and look forward to implementing substantive changes that advance humanity, hope and conclude in written resolutions and policy and practice,” said O’Shea.

He spoke about the support his department has for reforms and best practices, including a national use of force database, the NAACP Chiefs of Police 10 shared principles, and the use of body cams, something the department hopes to budget for in the 2021-22 fiscal year.

“We support legislative reforms and include rescinding of laws and sentencing guidelines that are institutionally biased and foster racial oppression against people of color,” O’Shea said. “Village governance, employees, residents and the community as a whole need to work in concert to cultivate the moral and ethical courage to form a framework of equitable outcomes.”

To promote the hiring of more minorities to the police force in River Forest, O’Shea said the department did away with the $25 application fee. As a result, applications shot up, including those for Latinos. In 2019, the department had 26 applications. In 2020, the number jumped to 91. However, while the percentage of Latinos that applied rose from 31 percent to 48 percent accordingly, the percentage of Black applications dropped, from 15 percent to 12 percent.

O’Shea said the police and fire commission can look into the reasons for the increase in Latino applications over Black applications. 

Next, on Sept. 29, the second part of the village board’s committee of the whole meeting will take place, this time to discuss external equity and inclusion as it relates to the larger community. At that meeting, the village’s discussion on its Dominican partnership will take place. Sheila Radford-Hill from Dominican will talk about the Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation (TRHT) framework. 

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