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Tuesday night, April 20, 2010, Champaign-Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice presented three proposals for changes to the Champaign police union contract, set to expire on June 1, 2010 and currently under negotiation. Over a dozen organizations endorse the proposals, including the NAACP, Ministerial Alliance, and Planner's Network.
In light of recent incidents involving Champaign Police and members of the Champaign community and in the interest of promoting a safer, more transparent relationship between the police and community in the city of Champaign, the Champaign-Urbana Citizens for Peace and Justice (CUCPJ) submits proposals for amending three aspects of the Champaign Police Department’s employment contract with the city of Champaign: the residency requirement, the drug testing policy, and access to personnel files.
I. Residency Requirement
CUCPJ proposes that the current language in the CPD contract under Article 27.1 “Residency Requirement” be amended to read: “All officers covered by this agreement shall be actual residents of the City of Champaign.” Prior to 1970 all officers employed by the Champaign Police Department were required to reside within the city limits. In the aftermath of school integration that took place in the 1960s and 1970s, the predominantly white police force lobbied to change this policy so that their children would not be forced to attend schools in a post-integration climate. It seems that while many white police officers were willing to perform their law enforcement duties in a racially diverse community they were not willing to live and participate in it as equals. The current Champaign police contract reflects these values as police officers in Champaign are not required to reside within the city they are charged to serve and protect. CUCPJ believes the city should reinstate the residency requirement because it will ensure that officers are invested in the local community, that our financial investment in police salaries is returned through tax revenue, and that skilled employment opportunities are opened up to local people. In addition, reinstating the residency requirement will help change the culture of the Champaign Police Department and improve our chances of recruiting a racially diverse workforce.
II. Drug Testing Policy
CUCPJ proposes that the language in Article 34 of the CPD contract, “Drug Testing,” be bolstered so that police officers shall be subject to alcohol and drug testing in the following circumstances: 1) where facts or circumstances are sufficient to reasonable suspicion that a member of the Department is illegally using drugs; 2) when a police officer is directly involved in an incident that results in death or great bodily harm or if the officer has fired his/her weapon on duty outside of a training situation; 3) when the probationary period for a police officer on probation is coming to an end, passing out of probation will be contingent on passing a drug test; and 4) when a police officer is returning from a leave of absence that exceeds 90 days, reinstatement will be contingent on passing a drug test. These amendments all have precedent in a variety of police contracts in other cities across Illinois and the nation and are much needed in the city of Champaign in light of recent incidents of drug and alcohol abuse among local police officers. CUCPJ believes these amendments to the drug testing policy will benefit the police force and the Champaign community because it will enhance the community’s trust in the integrity and judgment of its police force and contribute to a revitalization of community relations between police and the public.
III. Access to Complaints
CUCPJ proposes that the current language in the CPD contract under Article 20.2, 20.3, and 20.4 regarding Personnel Files be amended to reflect the recent July 20, 2009 ruling by the Illinois 4th District Appellate Court in Gekas v. Williamson so that 1) the general public be authorized to review the complaints against an officer; 2) all citizen complaints whether founded or unfounded be placed in an officer’s personnel file and be accessible by the public; and 3) citizen complaints, whether founded or unfounded, shall not be removed from the officer’s employee file. CUCPJ believes that these amendments will help ensure that the public is allowed access to all of the documents that it is legally entitled to. In addition, these changes will contribute to improved police-community relations and help assuage the perceived community concern that the Champaign Police Department is unaccountable and lacks transparency. CUCPJ also believes that the proposed amendments will promote enhanced public safety, allowing for more successful tracking of abuse and mistreatment patterns within the police force.