At Tuesday’s Kane County Board meeting, Sheriff Ron Hain offered a recap of recent actions of civil unrest and explained the Sheriff’s Office position about the use of force and how to build equity in the criminal justice system here in Kane County, IL.
The following are his statements, which the Sheriff’s Office shared Tuesday in the form of a news release.
Kane Sheriff’s Position on Civil Unrest, Use of Force And Building Equality
Following the horrific and unnecessary death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020, police nationally experienced civil unrest, rioting and looting spurring off of peaceful protests. As these events had a domino effect across the country, we experienced our first protest in Geneva on May 29.
Kane County sheriff’s deputies deployed throughout the area since that date in varying capacities — from SWAT, to crowd control, to K-9, and patrol teams of up to 10 deputies on the ready for flash mobbing and looting.
As we watched events in Chicago unfold Friday and Saturday, our concern grew over the Aurora protest on Sunday.
I spoke with several black community advocates in Aurora in the hours leading up to the event. Their message was clear: that they will remain peaceful, but their voices will be heard. It was also clear that if violence occurred, it would be at the hands of insurgents who only wish create crime and chaos and not memorialize the death of Mr. Floyd and push for reform.
During the Aurora unrest, our deputies were pelted with bricks, rocks, frozen water bottles, and even fired upon. Fortunately, the bullets struck the windows of our armored vehicles and not our personnel.
Because I am certain the black community leaders I networked with on the day of the violence were not involved in the attacks on our deputies and officers, their peaceful, yet angered voices were heard, and it is my commitment to work toward a unified criminal justice system in response to the many issues we currently experience.
Kane County’s Use of Force Policy
Respect is earned, not given. While clearly the men and women of our local police agencies are more than worthy of respect and trust, we are all grouped in one uniform with Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
The Kane County Sheriff’s Office has a comprehensive Use of Force policy that includes the use of force continuum, duty to intercede, and specifically bans force on an arrestee’s neck or above.
Last year, the Sheriff’s Office instituted mandatory monthly de-escalation and stress-induced training that reflects and reviews the policy. This helps us accomplish accountability and that proper actions will be taken during arrest encounters.
Any use of force is documented and reviewed by our Office of Professional Standards. Any officer-involved death is reviewed by the Kane County State Attorney’s Office and the multi-agency Kane County Major Crimes Task Force.
How To Move Forward
Since April of 2020, the Sheriff’s Office has worked toward the purchase of a new police dash-cam system that places cameras in all patrol cars and audio recording on all deputies. This platform sets the stage for the acquisition of a body camera system, if funding is approved by the Kane County Board.
In my year-and-one-half as sheriff, I have been outspoken in regard to my concern of our black incarcerated population in the Kane County Jail. While the black population in Kane is only 6%, it has been as high as 46% in the jail during my term.
COVID-related releases and deferrals have leveled that curve a bit, sitting currently at 33% today. This alone may help prove that the lessening of mass incarceration and high bond levels for non-violent crime can build toward equality in criminal justice.
We also need to develop a system that triages people who come into custody and directs them down support paths and exit programming to lessen their likelihood of re-offending, begetting negative and repetitive encounters with law enforcement.
Generally, people enter incarceration due to one of three factors: mental health issues, drug addiction, or lack of opportunities. Our corrections staff has built support systems around all three avenues to work toward correcting generations of societal wrongs and finally giving opportunities to the most vulnerable populations.
We need now, more than ever, for the courts and prosecutors to recognize the value of these structured programs and give weight to those defendants who graduate through our system in a positive and productive fashion in consideration of bond and sentence reduction, as we softly hand them back to their community wrapped in employment, mental health, and addiction support.
It is also incumbent on our uniformed officers to lead these initiatives inside the jail and out in the community, as they have done in our jail over the last year.
I often reflect on the words of Charles Taylor, a 70-year-old black man from Aurora, in and out of custody 12 times over 50 years, who said when left our jail for the last time after experiencing our Recovery Pod, “Sheriff Hain, I never realized anyone in uniform ever cared about me, until now.”
We do all of this work in the interest of our fellow man. Regardless of skin color.
We do all this work to gain respect and trust and truly protect and serve. We do all of this work, so that these fine officers and deputies will never have to stand on a skirmish line in their own community again because the public would know we are worlds apart from Officer Chauvin in Minneapolis.
We have heard the voices of the outraged, and they have my commitment that I will not stop in my mission to bring true reform.
Our wonderful community should know that these fine officers will never yield in standing that line and protecting our people and property, as well, for laws are the fabric of a civilized nation and law enforcement is that thin blue thread that holds that fabric together.
Sheriff of Kane County