Addressing Misinformation

Don't believe everything you hear or read. Before you post, share or point fingers, get the facts from a credible source.

If you’ve heard or read about something involving the City of Elgin, this webpage may help you in determining whether that information is accurate.

Misinformation has a tendency to spread rapidly in a community by word of mouth and other channels, but especially through social media. And while it may not necessarily be anyone’s intent to be spreading misinformation, it’s always good practice to check whether some information about the City of Elgin that seems questionable is accurate.

The purpose of this webpage is to help keep inaccurate information from spreading in the community. This webpage will not be addressing opinions or every rumor that may be circulated. Rather, this webpage will be responding to clear instances of inaccurate information that mischaracterizes policy or is harmful to the City's image and reputation. This webpage will help ensure the City of Elgin truly remains the trusted source for accurate information about the City organization and community. Page updates will be made on an as-needed basis.

As the City of Elgin strives to be a high performing, financially stable government, this webpage is one more way for the City to promote transparency, accountability and communication to provide the community with opportunities to engage and be informed.

Below are some recent examples of misinformation about the City that have spread in the Elgin community, and the associated facts.

icons whispering with words Addressing Misinformation

August 2020

On August 15, 2020, information was posted on a social media site alleging that Elgin police officers were “harassing people” and that officers were advising people “they had to show them that the liquid containers they were drinking were non-alcoholic” in downtown Elgin. 

Elgin police officers were dispatched to the downtown location after receiving a 911 complaint of subjects harassing customers who were leaving a downtown business. Upon speaking with the group about the complaint, it was observed that one individual had an alcoholic beverage poured into a restaurant cup. One officer, using his discretion, offered the gentlemen a choice to either pour out his alcoholic beverage or be cited in accordance with City ordinances. The gentlemen elected to pour out his drink and no citations were issued during this encounter. All parties then chose to leave the area and the officers cleared the location.

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Public comments were made at the July 29 city council meeting about incidents involving Elgin police officers that are not entirely accurate. Chief Lalley addresses those comments to provide clarity below:

I want to stress that the purpose of addressing these matters is not intended to discount the concerns brought forward. Rather, I believe it is important to ensure accurate information is being provided regarding these incidents and that my clarification is being provided to enable people to form opinions based on all the facts. I also want to clarify that the incidents mentioned during the public comment occurred before I became the Chief of Police. With the exception of the matter involving Lieutenant Jensen, I was not the final decision maker in the incidents mentioned.

My decision to reinstate Lieutenant Jensen to an administrative position in the police department was made in consultation with both the Legal Department and City Manager and is documented in an in-depth report that remains available to the public for review. I have always recognized that while my decision would bring closure for some, for others it would not. During the two years, the police department has not sat idle, we have evolved in our practices and we will continue to do so.

I realize that I carry the history of Elgin Police Department as its Chief and some past incidents continue generating concern for some in our community. But the incidents that have occurred in the past are not an indication of what the future will be. Dismissing the possibility of a better future—or the hope for a better future—is not a belief to which I subscribe. Working with our community and the officers striving for a better tomorrow, I will continue pushing the department forward with the hope these past incidents do not over-shadow the progress the department has made and is continually making ...

I, and the police department, genuinely appreciate the support shown by the community along with the voices of those who have been involved with the peaceful protests and speaking at city council meetings. I believe it is through all these voices that the police department will continue to challenge itself and constantly work to be better. During the past several city council meetings, I have provided information on programs, policies, and initiatives the department currently has in place relating to the national conversation on police reform. I also provided information on the new initiatives being brought forward by the department. I want to stress that as we continue to be leaders in our profession, we also adhere to the philosophy that we can always be better, have more work to do, and are always willing to listen to criticism so that we continue to improve and move the department forward.

I believe the decisions made by prior police chiefs in the mentioned incidents had the best interest of the community and the department at the forefront. While I understand that the outcome of these incidents may not be acceptable to all, my hope is that in 5, 10, or 20 years from now, conversations about the police department will be focusing on what the department— working with their community—has accomplished. This hope may then provide the comfort needed for some.

The incidents mentioned for which I wish to provide clarification involve Officer Steve Jones who passed away in 2017, Sergeant Gary Neal who retired in 2015, Officer Bill Wood who retired in 2017.

The statement was made that Officer Jones was fired for bringing forward a complaint of racial discrimination is untrue. Officer Jones was terminated for unrelated policy violations but was later reinstated. I would also be remiss to not mention that Officer Jones was a respected officer who impacted the lives of many in his position, including myself and students and staff at Kimball Middle School. Although it is difficult to talk about an officer who is no longer with us, I think it is important to clarify what actually occurred so that his legacy is not tarnished.

It was stated that “African American Sergeant Gary Neal, according to the lawsuit, Sergeant Neal wrote a memorandum to Officer James Barnes of internal affairs Barnes took no action with the complaint.” This statement may be referring to an investigation in which another member of the department brought forward a complaint, not Sergeant Neal, and this incident was in fact thoroughly investigated by the City.

A statement was made that retired Officer Bill Wood was only punished with two years of probation along with paying back the police union the money he stole. I want to stress that this incident was brought forward by the police union itself, asking that one of its members be investigated and held accountable. Once notified of the charges, Wood retired, prevent-ing an internal investigation from being conducted. A criminal investigation, however, was still initiated. The punishment Wood received is not determined by the police department. In this instance, the Kane County States Attorney’s office made the final determination. As a matter of practice, restitution—or requiring the stolen money to be paid back—is common practice.

Lastly, a statement was made that “the advancement of racial relationships that Lalley claims to uphold is a false narrative.” That is simply not true. I wholeheartedly disagree with this statement and while I understand this is one’s perception or feeling, it has not only been my words, but my actions over the past two years that should be examined. Whether it was community conversations, listening sessions, the formation of a group of officers who just recently participated in a roundtable discussion on race, these are the actions that I believe show my commitment to the betterment of these relationships. These types of actions do not come without criticisms, but I am committed to moving the department forward and will continue to hope that these actions will change the perception of a false narrative.

The statement was also made that “Elgin has yet to see a case of an Elgin Police Officer for being truly held accountable for their unlawful actions.” In the past 15 years there have been several officers that have been held accountable either by termination of their of employment and/or criminal charges being brought forward. Although I am aware that the level of accountability may be less that what some may want, the fact remains that these officers were ultimately held accountable. And in many instances, it was the police department who brought forth the misconduct and initiated the investigation.

For the past two years it has been my commitment to both the department and the community to continue to work together, to continue building relationships, and continue our commitment to be a department that embraces criticism and is not afraid to change. I am keenly aware that change causes uncertainty and uncomfortableness. My hope is that the members of the police department who have no connection to the mentioned incidents will not be judged by the actions of others, but by their own. Although the disheartening actions of others ultimately reflect upon us, whether here in Elgin or across the country, they should not overshadow our continued commitment to professionalism.

I encourage any community member to contact me to ask questions, talk, or express their concerns. Specifically if there are any incidents that need further clarification I encourage you to contact me.

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On August 4, word spread across Facebook groups that there was a stabbing in Carleton Rogers Park.

Officers responded to a report of a possible stabbing in Carleton Rogers Park. Upon arrival, they found there was no stabbing incident but rather that an individual had a minor, self-inflicted injury. 

The misinformation spread across several public Facebook groups after being shared from a Facebook page, "Northern Illinois Scanner Incidents." That page's “About” section describes it as "Norther Illinois Scanner Incidents is ran by 3 individuals who spend most of their day reporting incidents for this page." 

This page is not an official or trusted source of City of Elgin information. The call on the scanner provided wrong information, which prompted the response of fire and police. The scanner incident page does not followup or seek facts of the situation, and therefore its posts should not be shared without first confirming facts of the situation with the City of Elgin. This type of misinformation can hurt Elgin's reputation and instill unnecessary fear in the community.