DECATUR, Ill. (WAND) - Decatur city leaders they are looking for ways to improve relationships between communities and the police.
One police department in Elgin has a community policing program and a few councilmen were receptive to the idea. In Elgin, the police department has a program that involves officers assigned to live in specific neighborhoods.
WAND News talked to Elgin's police chief, Ana Lalley, about its efforts there. Lalley said the goal is to be part of the neighborhood. The program is called the "Resident Officer Program of Elgin", or ROPE. It allows communities to build relationships with a neighbor, who is a police officer, with hopes to solve and deescalate problems.
"It really allows an inside view into the humanity of policing," Lalley said.
Karl Coleman, who is running for a seat on the Macon County Board, envisions this kind of community policing for Decatur.
"We must foster programs like this and to find our police officers in communities that look like communities they're policing," Coleman said.
Looking back, Coleman believes when Decatur police chased a 27-year-old into a home, a community police officer would have helped deescalate.
"How we police and who we police has to change," Coleman said.
Police Chief Lalley said Elgin's ROPE program played a role in seeing crime go down. Here is the city's 2019 annual police report.
"You police with your community," Lalley said. "I think that's something people need to understand. You don't police at your community, you police with your community."
WAND News talked to councilmen David Horn and Pat McDaniel. Horn said the ROPE program would allow more engagement in a single neighborhood.
"Elgin as I said, Peoria is doing it," Pat McDaniel said. "Maybe we study those and take the best of those and see what didn't work over there."
What makes the program successful in Elgin, Police Chief Lalley said, is how police are required to be more engaged with the community.