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Training top priority of new North Chicago police chief

James Jackson

James Jackson

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Hanna rally Nov. 10

A “Justice for Darrin Rally” and march to City Hall begins at 11 a.m. Nov. 10 in front of the apartment building where Darrin “Dagwood” Hanna, 45, was arrested, at 717 17th St., North Chicago, and will include a free lunch and deejay.

“We’re marching for all victims of police brutality, in North Chicago and around the nation,” said organizer Ralph Peterson, a cousin to Hanna. “This isn’t about bashing the police or the city. We want the community to wake up. There have been many incidents of excessive force and people need to stand together against that.”

Participants and sponsors include the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, state Rep. Rita Mayfield, D-Waukegan, also a cousin to Hanna, the South Suburban NAACP, Wadell and Daisy Brooks, Mayor Leon Rockingham, Hillery’s BBQ and the Wolfpack Motorcycle Club of Kenosha, Wis.

The event will also include remarks by ministers from area churches and Bishop Grant from Operation PUSH. For more information, call Peterson at (224) 381-9218.

Updated: December 18, 2012 2:06AM

New North Chicago Police Chief James Jackson is putting a new emphasis on training in his department.

“Our mission is to make sure our officers, including supervisors and everybody, receive as much training as possible, especially with hot-button issues in terms of communications,” said Jackson, who was hired as an interim in February, and whose permanent appointment was approved this week by the City Council.

Jackson, 54, said he has worked to stamp out any bias-based policing, which occurs when officers make decisions or take action based on racial, ethnic, cultural and other stereotypes instead of facts and observed behaviors.

A 30-year police veteran who was second in command in the Chicago Police Department before his retirement, Jackson said he’s using roll-call training to “bring up issues and have honest conversations about what people are experiencing.”

The city has battled allegations against its police, including excessive force, biased-policing tactics and lack of training since the Nov. 13 death of Darrin “Dagwood” Hanna, who was arrested a week earlier for an alleged domestic battery.

A forensic autopsy determined Hanna died as a result of multiple chronic health conditions, plus trauma and restraint during his arrest. Tasered multiple times during the arrest, Hanna was handcuffed and lying on his stomach when, according to police statements, he was put in a head lock and punched in the face by Officer Brandon Yost, who was later fired for his role in the incident.

Numerous complaints of excessive force have been lodged against the North Chicago Police Department, some of them resulting in sizeable monetary settlements, including a $1 million payout in the case of 21-year-old Aaren Gwinn, who was unarmed when he was shot to death by police in an alleged drug stop in 2008.

Ralph Peterson of Waukegan, a first cousin to Hanna, who has led the charge against alleged — and proven — excessive force by certain police officers, said he supports Jackson’s appointment, noting that the new chief “moved immediately” on complaints Peterson “personally brought” over officer conduct.

Peterson and other Hanna family members and friends, backed by the Chicago-based Rainbow PUSH Coalition and other groups, pressured the city for a change in department leadership. Mayor Leon Rockingham, who appointed former Chief Michael Newsome in 2005, placed him on paid administrative leave Jan. 3. Newsome took retirement on Feb. 24.

“We’ve seen more action in less than one year from Chief Jackson than from Chief Newsome in all the years he held office,” Peterson said. “But we’re waiting to see when and how Chief Jackson will address many other incidents.”

The Hanna family on Dec. 13 filed a federal wrongful death suit in which the city, its police department and the six officers who arrested Hanna are named as defendants.

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