Oak Park resident Khari Reed, who organized last summer’s kids Black Lives Matter educational rally, is the newest member of the Citizen Police Oversight Committee (CPOC), a citizen-led commission that reviews the investigations into complaints made against police officers.
Following his Oct. 5 appointment by the Oak Park village board, Reed told Wednesday Journal he looks forward to serving on CPOC and working with the commissioners to “to further cultivate a positive relationship between the police department and the citizens of Oak Park.”
Reed and his wife moved to Oak Park a little over three years ago. The couple has three small children – two sons and a little girl. The family’s experiences with Oak Park police, Reed said, have been “wonderful.”
His first experience with the police happened right after they moved to the village, when their home’s alarm system went off after the family forgot to disable it. The alarm triggered the police department. When officers arrived, Reed was standing in his front yard.
“They weren’t overly threatened by an African American in the front yard while the alarm was going off,” said Reed.
The officers were extremely professional and checked to make sure everything was alright, according to Reed. Officers displayed that same level of courtesy and professionalism every time Reed has encountered them.
“But I know that there are some citizens who have had unfortunate experiences with the police department,” Reed said.
As a commissioner of CPOC, Reed looks forward to helping address those instances effectively, so they become few and far between. He’s also interested in seeing how complaint data from Oak Park compares to countrywide figures.
“I’m really trying to put into context how well Oak Park is doing when we look at different national benchmarks,” he said.
Following the murder of George Floyd, Reed organized a youth-led educational Black Lives Matter march and rally for kids at Fox Park. Rep. La Shawn K. Ford was among those who spoke at the June 27 event. Kids as young as toddlers participated in the event.
As a newly appointed CPOC member, Reed has yet to develop relationships with his fellow commissioners. He hopes that as a group, they will work together to meet the expectations of the Oak Park community and develop an understanding of the positive contributions each member wants to make.
Reed has new ideas he’d like to see implemented in the police complaint review process, including giving citizens the option to appear before CPOC and explain the situation to them directly once the COVID-19 pandemic subsides.
“Police departments really are given the public’s trust in terms of our safety and our protection,” said Reed. “To be mindful of that, the citizens have to be empowered.”
If given the ability to testify directly to CPOC, Reed believes citizens will have a greater sense of validation and that their complaints will lead to meaningful change.
“We don’t want to wait for something bad to happen and retrospectively review it,” Reed said. “We need to be more engaged now.”