Springfield Police Chief Endorses Call for Police Reform

Springfield Police Chief Paul Williams shared a letter on social media from the International Association of Chiefs of Police calling for police reform in the wake of the George Floyd verdict and other incidents of police shootings.

The IACP letter puts the blame on the U.S. Congress, stating that they have “done nothing” in terms of working to bring meaningful police reform legislation. The group says the legislators need to focus on the areas where there is broad bipartisan agreement and get those issues done and deal with more divisive issues once those are done.

“Disagreement over a few provisions has derailed serious consideration of broader reform proposals that have widespread support from both social justice organizations and the policing profession,” the IACP wrote in a statement. “These proposals would help advance the policing profession and enhance the trust that must exist between communities and police.”

IACP officials say that taking care of the matter at the state level is not enough.

“In the absence of compromise, we will continue to see piecemeal, ill-informed, short-term solutions passed at the state and local level that lack the scale and scope to address what is clearly a national issue,” IACP staff wrote. “Or, even worse, nothing will be passed at all. At a time that is calling out for bold national leadership, inaction and grandstanding from our elected officials is simply unacceptable.”

SPD Chief Williams told KWTO he supports the seven measures that the IACP is endorsing in their letter but for the SPD it’s more than just support.

“The IACP continues to take the lead in supporting police reform ideas,” Chief Williams said. “While these are greatly needed on a national basis and I support them as member of the Board of Directors, I’ll note that SPD is ahead of the curve and embraces, participates in, or has implemented each of these.”

The seven items the IACP wants to see are:

Adopt the National Consensus Policy on Use of Force. The National Consensus Policy on Use of Force makes it clear that it is the policy of law enforcement agencies to value and preserve human life and that they should develop policies and training practices that focus on de-escalation and the application of force only when necessary. This policy also makes clear that an officer has a duty to intervene to prevent or stop the use of excessive force by another officer and addresses the issue of chokeholds and vascular neck restraints.
Mandate Participation in the National Use of Force Database. Mandatory participation in the National Use of Force Data Collection effort will help law enforcement, elected officials, and community members better identify and understand the totality of incidents, trends associated with use-of-force incidents, and other outlying factors.
Develop National Standards for Discipline and Termination of Officers. There is a need to develop national standards and policies for the discipline and termination of officers so that there is uniformity and a gold standard of excellence and to prevent malevolent, incompetent, or dishonorable individuals from remaining in the police profession.
Mandate Participation in the National Police Officer Decertification Database. A national police officer decertification database will aid law enforcement agencies in making informed hiring decisions and to prevent officers who have been terminated by an agency from being able to go to another state to be hired. An agency or official in each state would be required to submit data concerning officers employed, separated from employment, and whose certifications have been revoked in the state. Rather than create a new decertification database, the IACP supports funding for and mandatory participation by every state in the National Decertification Index managed by the International Association of Directors of Law Enforcement Standards and Training (IADLEST).
Enhance Police Leadership and Culture. Police leaders must prioritize diversity and create a culture of equity and inclusion by working to eliminate racial, ethnic, and gender bias in the workplace.
Implement Improved Recruitment, Hiring, and Promotion Practices. This includes increased educational standards, background investigations, targeted recruitment efforts, review of hiring standards and practices, diversity, training, and recruit training programs.
Enhance Ability of Police Agencies to Implement Effective Discipline. Contracts, labor agreements, and civil service rules often make it difficult for departments to swiftly remove problematic officers. Additionally, labor arbitrators routinely reinstate officers that have committed egregious acts, and police leaders are left with no option and are forced to be held accountable for officers they wanted removed from their agencies. While ensuring that the due process rights of officers are respected, the authority of management in disciplinary proceedings needs to be enhanced to allow agencies to expediently discipline and terminate officers.

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