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City Council Thu Jul 30 2015

Proposed STOP Act Would Document "Stop & Frisk" in Chicago

There's never a dull day in the Loop. And there's certainly never a dull day at a City Council meeting. Wednesday morning's meeting got off to a running start as protestors of all sorts packed the second floor of the City Hall building outside the council chamber.

They held signs that said things such as "Save Dyett" (a high school slated for closure) and "Mayor Emanuel where's the justice for black children?" Multiple groups were gathered to give press conferences on upcoming ordinances or to express their displeasure with the City Council. They ranged from the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, Equal Access Across Chicago, We Charge Genocide, Chicago Votes, #ChiStops, Asian Americans Advancing Justice and others.

One proposed ordinance that is gaining traction was introduced today by Chicago Votes and We Charge Genocide. The ordinance is called the STOP Act, which stands for "Stop, Transparency, Oversight and Protection." The ordinance would strengthen oversight of the Chicago Police Department (CPD) by increasing data transparency, in regards specifically to stop and frisk tactics utilized by the CPD.

Under the STOP Act, the CPD would have to collect and share data on all the stops that it performs, including the demographic information of those stopped, the reason for the stop, the result of the stop, the location of the stop, and the badge numbers of the officers involved in the stop. Officers would also be required to give receipts to those they stop.

This information would be compiled and shared quarterly, and go on to be reviewed and used to evaluate the effectiveness of certain programs.

Image via We Charge Genocide

Other major cities, such as New York, currently already have such requirements in place to ensure easy access to data on the policing of the city.

"We have a lot of support [for the ordinance]," said De'Jaun Jackson, organizing director at Chicago Votes and nicknamed "Tough Love." "We've only been working on this ordinance for a week and a half and we've collected over 2,000 petitions already, so it's moving really fast. It's an issue that everyone cares about."

Chicago Votes is a civic engagement organization that encourages young people to get out the vote.

"Chicago Votes is a not-for-profit organization that is trying to increase young leaders here in Chicago, and teach them about voter registration and how important it is to be active and civically engaged," Jackson said. "We actually go to colleges, high schools and our neighborhoods -- we pretty much canvas wherever there are young people. We go there to inform them about the importance of voting and how to actually get great changes for their communities."

Jackson explained that the inspiration for the STOP Act came from community polling in which Chicago Votes found that police accountability was one of the most important issues Chicago citizens were facing.

"When we did our last program we actually collected over 5,000 pledge to vote cards that had issues on there about police accountability, mental health, having a South Side trauma center, and after we did a data analysis, the top issue was police accountability," he said. "That's why we came into this partnership with We Charge Genocide and we came up with the STOP Act."

He also touched on crime rates in Chicago and the relationship between police officers and communities.

"This is a nation-wide issue," Jackson said. "It's the fact that for individuals like police officers, as we grow up we look at them as heroes, but then your heroes become your villians. So, we're losing trust here, and the only way we can get trust back is if we have data transparency and we talk to our residents and tell them that you can take back your community and come together."

Jackson clarified, though, that he supports stronger police-community ties.

"I'm not against police officers coming into the community and understanding the people," he said. "We need to work together to get the changes we want. It's not the fact that we have one goal, they have another goal. We've got to come together -- that's the only way we can get young people to stop killing each other and dying."

"Crime here in Chicago is just too high," he added.

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