VIRGIL – At first blush, a man calling police to report that his “Defund Police” sign was stolen from his front yard might seem pretty ironic.
And then the Kane County Sheriff’s deputy manages to find the guy who stole it, brings it back and the man puts the sign in his yard again.
But that’s what happened.
A resident of Virgil reported July 5 that someone had stolen his “Defund Police” sign from his front yard in the 6N000 block of Meredith Road.
According to Kane County Sheriff’s reports, the resident reported that someone driving a red Ford pickup truck with “Brian Farm Service” in white on the side, and towing a black trailer had taken his sign, which was worth about $20.
The resident described the driver as a white man in his late 50s with short light-colored hair, a beard and wearing blue jean bib overalls, and provided a photo taken with his cell phone, the report stated.
While in the area of Route 38 and Meredith Road, the deputy saw a red Ford pickup towing a black trailer loaded with logs with “Brian Farm Service” on the side of the truck, the report stated.
The deputy stopped the truck and the driver admitted to taking the “Defund Police” sign from the property on Meredith Road, the report stated.
The driver “advised he would return the sign to the above listed residence, which he did with my assistance,” the report stated.
Why the sign?
The Chronicle is not naming the man involved because it does not identify crime victims, but he agreed to talk about the reasons he put up the sign.
The resident said his sign speaks to a national problem of police misconduct, not necessarily a local one, as the deputy who brought his sign back “is a wonderful person.”
In full, his sign’s message is “Reform has not worked. Defund and work to abolish police” accompanied by the image of a fist.
The resident said he put up the sign in late June in reaction to incidents of police misconduct, such as the killing of George Floyd.
“It’s an extreme sign, yes. But the … system needs to change. We need to quit deliberately harming society,” the resident said. “They have been working on reform for a good decade now and these problems have been going on for multiple decades. ... We are going to change the system nationally. If we get to the point of defunding or abolishing, there will be someone else to call.”
The resident said if police are not working to solve the problem, then the public needs to change the system.
“If they’re not always doing the job, they are the problem,” he said. “And if they are going to continue to be the problem, we need a separate service to do that side of so-called policing.”
The slogan, “Defund Police,” generally means reallocating or redirecting funding away from police to other agencies, such as for more mental health or social services.
“They (police) have been continuously fighting the change. If they do not want to do their jobs properly, I don’t see any way but to get to the abolish part,” the resident said. “We should start allocating these funds to other services and departments that can handle these situations without killing people. If we take away – step by step – all of their duties, then obviously it gets to the point of abolishing.”
But then who do you call for a crime – whether it be someone breaking into your house or stealing your yard sign?
“We don’t need to have a department that is called 'police' to do all these particular jobs,” he said. “We can have groups that are more interested in public safety and serving and protecting. If police do that – that’s wonderful. Let’s get the system fixed.”
'Respect is earned'
In June, Kane County Sheriff Ron Hain released a statement about the issue of police misconduct and use of force, stating it was his commitment "to work toward a unified criminal justice system in response to the many issues we currently experience."
"Respect is earned, not given. While clearly the men and women of our local police agencies are more than worthy of respect and trust, we are all grouped in one uniform with Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin," according to Hain's statement.
Chauvin was charged in the death of George Floyd.
"The Kane County Sheriff’s Office has a comprehensive Use of Force policy that includes the use of force continuum, duty to intercede, and specifically bans force on an arrestee’s neck or above. Last year, the office instituted mandatory monthly de-escalation and stress-induced training that reflects and reviews the policy," according to Hain's statement.
"This helps us accomplish accountability and that proper actions will be taken during arrest encounters," according to Hain's statement. "Any use of force is documented and reviewed by our Office of Professional Standards. Any officer-involved death is reviewed by the Kane County State Attorney’s Office and the multi-agency Kane County Major Crimes Task Force."
A message left on voice mail for a man believed to be affiliated with Brian Farm Services was not returned.