Police Abuse Reporting of Jacksonville held a gathering on the Square last night to bring attention to what they perceive as a lack of police oversight.
Randy Newingham organized the event, saying police have steered toward treating criminals like they have already been proven guilty while arrests are being made. Newingham points to cases like that of Ervin Lackey, who was found unresponsive with a telephone cord wrapped around his neck while awaiting booking at Morgan County Jail in 2007, and Dennis Lancaster, who alleges an officer beat and kicked him while handcuffed on the ground in 2009.
“Everything with me initially started with Ervin Lackey, that was the story that caught my attention. But then Dennis Lancaster happened, and that’s when I started organizing the protests, trying to get a civilian oversight panel together here at the city hall, to work with the aldermen trying to get lapel cameras for the police. We had a man die in Ferguson and we had a man die here, both at the hands of the police department,” Says Newingham.
Newingham focused on what he calls a lack of citizen oversight of the police, saying that those with complaints about officers must submit their complaints to other officers.
“You file a complaint with the police department, and they take that complaint and issue it with the Illinois State Police department. And then the Illinois State Police Department will do an investigation as well as the Internal Affairs of the Jacksonville Police Department will take a look at the complaint.” Newingham elaborated.
“But at the end of the day it’s the Police investigating the Police, there is no one on the outside looking in, making people accountable for their actions. We need more checks and balances, all it takes is one cop to make a wrong move, and then what’s next?”
Jacksonville Police Officers were present at the gathering. Newingham, who no longer lives in Jacksonville, runs the PAR of Jacksonville Facebook page, and says he plans to continue pushing for more police oversight in Jacksonville. The Jacksonville Police Department could not be immediately reached for comment.