During an arrest in the Lincoln Towers parking lot in August 2019, DeKalb Sgt. Jeffery Weese was caught on video choking Aurora resident Elonte McDowell, 26. On Nov. 11 it was announced that Weese would be resigning from his position in the DeKalb Police Department. While it appears the DeKalb Police Department has reached a conclusion on this case of excessive force, there is still more they should be doing to regain the trust of the community.
The manner in which the DeKalb Police Department is currently handling the situation gives the impression that Weese’s actions against McDowell have not been fully condemned. It is true that chokeholds being banned by the police department as a result of the situation is a positive outcome. However, the 30-day suspension issued to Weese in February and the overall leniency of the terms of his punishment and resignation just seem like a half-assed attempt to make things right and not a sincere attempt to prevent any similar situation from occurring again in the future.
Due to an issue with union contracts, the police department was not able to punish Weese further than his initial suspension according to a July 14 Northern Star article. Weese resigning from his career in law enforcement does help ensure that he will not be able to perform another action like this again, but the DeKalb Police Department still needs to make a true commitment to preventing these situations in the first place.
While detailed plans of top to bottom police reform in the department with regular excessive force and sensitivity training would be an ideal way to start changing things, just a simple statement to condemn Weese’s use of excessive force and a sincere commitment to doing a better job to protect and serve our whole community would be a net positive.
The DeKalb Police Department is home to many officers who are meant to keep the community safe. However, there might be that fear for some that any police officer might utilize unnecessary force just as Weese did. The city must find a way to heal the mistrust from this situation and begin to remove doubt on the integrity of all its police officers.