Harper College

Statement from Chief John Lawson

Harper College Police Chief John Lawson made the following statement at an April 13 town hall for employees:

I want to acknowledge the tragedy that took place Sunday when a suburban Minneapolis police officer shot and killed Daunte Wright – a 20-year-old Black man – during a traffic stop. Authorities say it appears the officer intended to use a Taser, but instead fired her handgun. The shooting has sparked protests and unrest in an area already on edge, with the former Minneapolis officer accused in George Floyd’s death last year currently on trial.

I’ve spent time examining the Harper College Police Department’s Taser General Order. I’ve determined that our protocols and training are in compliance, and I will hold the department accountable to make sure those high standards continue. I’m also actively revising our use of force general order to comply with the parts of the new criminal justice reform bill that go into effect July 1.

As chief of police and a Federal Use of Force Assessor for Illinois, I know the responsibility I have in building a sense of belonging for our campus community and ensuring that every student, employee and visitor feels safe and respected. I am committed to working with our interim and new Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; our Employee Resource Groups; our newly formed diverse student advisory group known as the IDEA Circle; and other stakeholders to continue to promote healing and understanding and work toward creating a more just system.

On my second day here at Harper, I signed an agreement adopting the Ten Shared Principles, which the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and the Illinois NAACP State Conference designed to bridge the gap of mistrust between police and communities of color. It identifies the common ground between local law enforcement and communities of color in their commitment to and passion for defending civil rights and keeping communities safe.

This is not easy or comfortable work. Recent tragedies targeting communities of color across the nation have caused many of you to feel outraged, demoralized and fearful. I want to assure you that your voices will be heard. The Harper College Police Department stands in solidarity with you. We are committed to doing better, together.

Last Updated: 3/14/24