DeKalb Police Department to adapt policy reforms, budget unchanged


Patrick Murphy

DeKalb City Manager Bill Nicklas (center, right) speaks June 3 with Black Lives Matter protesters in front of DeKalb’s police headquarters.

By Kierra Frazier

A Black Lives Matter protester holds up a sign in front of The DeKalb Police Department in support of police reform and Black Lives Matter on Wednesday, June 3rd. (Patrick Murphy)

DeKALB — Following weeks of protest and community meetings calling for police reform, the DeKalb Police Department will be making several departmental changes. There are no changes to the department’s budget. 

Two resolutions —to approve a law enforcement embedded social worker and to adopt the shared principles from the Illinois NAACP and Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police — were passed unanimously at Monday night’s City Council meeting. 

Body Cameras

City Manager Bill Nicklas has recommended body cameras for every Officer at the DeKalb Police Department.  

Nicklas recommends that the proceeds from the sale of the former City Hall building, 200 S. Fourth St., be put toward a fund for body cameras. The estimated cost for maintaining the body camera system for the first five years is $150,000 annually, according to the July 13 Committee of the Whole agenda

A request for proposals regarding the sale of the former city building is due July 20, and council action of the property is expected in August, where the proceeds for the body camera system will later be allocated. 

The city is testing pilot studies involving three body camera vendors. After, the body camera system will be put into place for all officers, according to the agenda. 

Police Department Budget

Nicklas didn’t recommend reductions in the police department’s budget. At a May 11 city council meeting, there was a vote to reduce the department’s number of sworn officers from 67 to 64. 

The city decided to reduce the number of police officers, which saved $312,000, due to the decline in the general fund revenues of $4.5 million due to COVID-19 impacts, according to the agenda. The FY2020 budget for the police department is $28.9 million, according to the FY2020 adopted budget

“Any further reduction from 64 sworn officers must be weighed against the incidence of crime in our community and the effectiveness of crime reduction efforts through a variety of departmental programs and local nonprofit services,” Nicklas said in the agenda. 

Nicklas cited the Fourth of July double-shooting incident in DeKalb, which led to one death and one injury, as an increase of violent crime throughout the city. 

In lieu of a reduction in the police budget, Nicklas recommended reconfiguring the police department with a focus on community services, according to the agenda. 

Social Work

A social worker position will be established between Northwestern Medicine’s Ben Gordon Center and the DeKalb Police Department after the council approved the position at the July 13 meeting. 

The social worker at the police department would work 30 hours a week. Their role will be to step in place when the department identifies a person with mental or behavioral health issues, according to the agenda. The social worker can contact that person in an attempt to provide services that will reduce the need for police intervention.

The social worker would ride with officers and maintain an office at the DeKalb Police Department, according to the agenda. 

Use of Force and Duty to Intervene

The DeKalb Police Department standards of conduct have been revised to prohibit any “lateral and vascular technique and any type of forcible neck restraint,” according to the agenda. 

The police department has also revised its standards of conduct to include policies for officers to intervene when another officer is using force that is “clearly beyond that which is reasonable,” according to the agenda. 

Calls for limiting the use of force have intensified amid the George Floyd protests. Floyd died while in police custody, when former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pinned his knee to Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes. 

Disciplinary Records 

Public postings of disciplinary records of police officers will be posted and available on the city’s website, according to the agenda. 

In addition to the posting of disciplinary records, in accordance with a recent Illinois Supreme opinion filed, no disciplinary records will be erased in the future, according to the agenda. 

Hiring Practices

The Board of Fire and Police Commissioners will review its procedures to ensure that no candidates previously employed in law enforcement have been disciplined for violations of “use of force” protocols adopted by the DeKalb Police Department.

In addition to this, effective July 1, all hiring panels created to fill management positions within the city will include a person of color. This will include hiring panels for the open Assistant City Manager and Police Chief positions.