Police statistics website ready by end of the month, Petragallo says

In+this+Sept.+4+photo%2C+Interim+Police+Chief+John+Petragallo+%28left%29+speaks+about+an+arrest+statistics+website+at+the+New+Hope+Missionary+Baptist+Church%2C+1201+Twombly+Rd.

In this Sept. 4 photo, Interim Police Chief John Petragallo (left) speaks about an arrest statistics website at the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, 1201 Twombly Rd.

Dan Doren

DeKALB — DeKalb Police Chief John Petragallo spoke at the Student Association’s State of the SA and town hall meeting Monday night to discuss the progress of a police statistics website as well as the department’s community relations and training initiatives, in light of an Aug. 24 use of force incident.

A resident demanded the department post daily arrest breakdowns by race and economic status on its social media during a Sept. 4 community meeting, and Petragallo said Monday that he and the department are continuing work to provide statistics to the community.

Petragallo said he expects the department’s Police to Citizen, or P2C, program to be fixed by the end of the month. P2C is a public-access, police data-sharing tool.

The department’s own program has been non-operational for years, Petragallo said.

“I don’t know yet how this is going to look, but I’m optimistic that it’s a good system,” he said. “And I think that will satisfy the request that was made that evening, and I’m excited about it.”

Petragallo discussed the department’s plans for increased community engagement.

“There is definitely a need for us to get out into the community,” he said. “I had a discussion with [SA President Naomi Bolden], and we’ve started a citizens-community relations team.”

The relations team will consist of eight or nine officers and actively engage with community members to build trust and familiarity, Petragallo said.

Petragallo also talked about the need for continuous Racial Intelligence Training and Engagement and for the mental wellness of officers to be a primary focus of the department.

“You got to know yourself before you go out and help your community,” he said. “We’ve always talked about having a physical program within our department to keep people fit; there’s not been a really big push for mental fitness and keeping your emotions in check. So, I think that is a great idea. I’m going to push for it.”

Four members of the SA Leadership Staff spoke during the event: President Bolden, Speaker of the Senate Ian Pearson, Treasurer Devohn Hall and Chief of Staff Antonio Johnson.

Bolden discussed some of the major projects she has worked on over the past year in collaboration with others. One of these projects is Project Orange, NIU’s anti-violence campaign that addresses sexual assault and domestic violence, gun violence and hate crimes, she said.

“With [Project Orange], we were able to work with DREAM Action NIU, the NAACP, Black Male Initiative as well as various other organizations that SA has typically not worked with enough in the past,” she said.

Since her presidency, which began July 1, Bolden said she has met with individuals from the Disability Resource Center to discuss issues concerning voter accessibility and Huskie Line and has worked with Rose Henton, director of coordinated education, training and outreach programs, on ideas to increase student awareness of the Title IX process.

“I wanted to create better relationships with the student body and other student organizations,” she said. “I think that sometimes people, or even students, view the SA as just their funding source, and we can be more than that for them.”

Pearson discussed recent projects he has undertaken in the areas of civic engagement, food insecurity and shared governance.

Pearson said he planned and hosted the Sept. 3 town hall with U.S. Rep. Lauren Underwood and coordinated the Oct. 7 bipartisan budget debate with appearances from four state representatives.

“These efforts are meant to help the NIU community,” he said, “so that our voices are heard and in the political sphere.”

Pearson said he has worked with SA and other governing bodies to create programs and opportunities to reduce food insecurity on campus.

He has also met with Faculty Senate to discuss student representation in a reimagined shared governance structure, he said.

The Faculty Senate voted Oct. 2 to move ahead in the effort of transferring educational and academic policy-making authorities from University Council to its own body.

Hall discussed recent financial policy changes, including a reduction in the amount of time required before student organizations can receive SA funding, from two years to one year.

Hall also said the SA updated its language to prevent student organizations that require dues from receiving any funding from the SA.

“We weren’t really hitting on that enough,” he said. “But there were some organizations that did have dues in their constitution. Now we have checked their language so that they cannot receive any and all funding.”

Last spring, a number of student organizations had funds revoked by the SA due to constitutional language that required dues from their members.

Johnson discussed upcoming events, including next week’s homecoming activities, and said applications for SA director of Mass Transit are available.

The director of Mass Transit will work with the city of DeKalb on transportation issues and secure state and national transportation grants to the university.

Q&A

Petragallo and the SA leadership staff also took questions from the audience.

Rod Moyer, a senior communication major, asked Petragallo if he knew about Gracie Survival Tactics, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu based defensive tactics system.

“A lot of times, when these videos come out, there’ll actually be an offer to pay for the instructor of a department and or the officers involved to come out to [Gracie Academy] headquarters in California to participate in a class,” Moyer said.

Petragallo said he was unfamiliar, but was interested in receiving more information about the training after the meeting.

“For us, anything is on the table, and we’ve gone through different types of control tactic training,” he said. “I’d like to take a look at that.”

Moyer also asked Bolden if the SA could grant Algenoy Alexander, an NIU alumnus and former SA president, an honorary degree in Social Change Leadership, a program that launched in 2018.

“[Alexander] is amazing and one of the best social change leaders to ever step foot on this campus,” Moyer said. “What he has done, and continues to do, has impacted countless lives.”

Bolden said she would present this idea to her “higher-ups” at NIU and figure out how the process would be implemented.

“I am not aware of how the process goes for getting [someone] an honorary degree,” she said. “So that would be … a question that I would have to ask first.”