Rock Island mayor, city manager, police chief, alderman agree gathering data is needed before foot pursuit policy

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Alderman Dylan Parker also acknowledged language he used in social media post was upsetting to members of the police department and public

Rock Island Mayor Mike Thoms, City Manager Randy Tweet, Police Chief Jeff VenHuizen and Alderman Dylan Parker met Thursday to discuss the issue of data collection and research into a foot pursuit policy.

In a news release Friday, the city said “Thoms stated that while the policy review is not something that will be completed quickly, the meeting was positive and the four came to a mutual understanding about the process going forward.”

Parker had posted a controversial statement about police on his official Facebook page after the Rock Island County State’s Attorney ruled the police shooting of Deshawn Tatum was justified late last month. It led to uniformed members of the Rock Island Police Department lining the back of the city council chambers in a silent protest during public comment earlier this month.

“Parker acknowledged the hazards of policing, reiterated his appreciation for police officers’ willingness to pursue such complex careers and recognized that the specific language used was upsetting to members of the police department and public,” during Thursday’s meeting, according to the release. “It is also clear that city leaders and city staff are committed to an open dialogue to address concerns and to move Rock Island forward in a positive direction.”

Here is the full statement:

Mayor Mike Thoms, City Manager Randy Tweet, Police Chief Jeff VenHuizen and Alderman Dylan Parker met in City Hall on Thursday, May 20, 2021 to discuss the issue of data collection and research into a foot pursuit policy.

This meeting was intended to open the dialogue within City Staff. The group agreed that more data and information is needed and at this time it would be difficult and very time consuming to gather this data manually. Research into a software program that could help gather this data would be helpful before it could be determined if a policy was warranted.

It’s clear that many people are very passionate about policing policies and will never agree 100% on every issue. Alderman Parker acknowledged the hazards of policing, reiterated his appreciation for police officers’ willingness to pursue such complex careers and recognized that the specific language used was upsetting to members of the police department and public. It is also clear that city leaders and city staff are committed to an open dialogue to address concerns and to move Rock Island forward in a positive direction.

Mayor Thoms stated that while the policy review is not something that will be completed quickly, the meeting was positive and the four came to a mutual understanding about the process going forward.

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