Police Chief Demitrous Cook.

Evanston Police Chief Demitrous Cook says residents should “take a look at” a bill introduced in Congress today aimed at ending excessive use of force by police.

The bill is described as the most expansive intervention into policing that lawmakers have proposed in recent memory.

The measure, sponsored by Rep. Karen Bass, D-California, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, would curtail legal protections that shield officers accused of misconduct from prosecution and restrict use of deadly force, except as a last resort.

“The time has passed for reform,” Cook told residents at Sunday’s rally against police violence in Fountain Square. From the formation of the first police department, in Boston in 1845, Cook said, “We have not perservered in making true police reform.”

He did praise the recommendations of the independent commission appointed following the beating by police of Rodney King in 1991 and President Obama’s task force on 21st Century Policing.

“Now it’s your duty as well as the police officers’ duty to make things right,” Cook told the crowd, adding, “This is the first time I’ve seen this magnitude of protest in my life.”

“The police department can’t run from police reform. Thie police department can’t run from citizen involvement. The police department can’t run from injustice,” Cook said.

Although the chief spoke immediately after another speaker, Nick Davis, who had advocated defunding police programs — “dismantle, divest and reform” — Davis called it, noting that the city spends more on police than the budgets of several other city departments combined, the chief did not address those ideas in his speech to the crowd.

Such proposals have gained traction in Minneapolis, and, to a lesser extent, in some other cities.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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