URBANA — University of Illinois police and the NAACP of Champaign County are planning to hold a ceremony this week to reinforce the importance of a set of principles they both endorse and hold dear.
Among those principles are that the life of every person has the highest value, that discrimination in any form must be rejected and that everyone must be treated with dignity and respect.
All 10 principles are included in a document that was developed and approved in 2018 by the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and the NAACP Illinois State Conference. UI police also adopted the principles last year.
To be on display at the UI Police Department, these principles represent much more than a document of the beliefs that police and communities of color have in common, according to UI Police Chief Craig Stone.
He believes it’s important that all interactions between police and the public are positive and that everyone is treated with dignity and respect, he said.
“Community policing depends on developing strong relationships, and we recognize our responsibility to be proactive in listening to and responding to the needs of all our community members,” he said. “Highlighting our common ground is an important step in this process.”
Champaign County NAACP President Minnie Pearson said her organization has a good relationship and positive contacts with UI police.
She recalled going to Springfield with Champaign Police Chief Anthony Cobb to sign the document of shared principles.
Why this initiative is important, Pearson said, is because it’s about building trust between police and the neighborhoods they serve.
“You’re trying to build a bridge,” she said.
Among the other shared principles are:
— An endorsement of fairness, transparency, impartiality and an opportunity for citizens and police to believe they are heard.
— A shared belief that law enforcement and community leaders have a mutual responsibility to encourage all people to have a better understanding and knowledge of the law to help them in their interactions with law enforcement officers.
— A support for diversity in police departments and in the law enforcement profession.
— A belief that de-escalation training should be required to ensure the safety of community members and officers.
The UI police and NAACP Champaign County ceremony will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday at the UI police department, 1110 W. Springfield Ave., U.
UI police said the shared principles will be hung in their briefing room, where patrol officers begin their shifts.
Pearson said her organization and police are doing all they can to help everyone understand that at the end of each day, they want everyone — every citizen, every police officer — to make it home safely to their families.
“We want to make sure, too, that the trust isn’t broken,” she said.