Village council voted 4-1 on Monday night to amend an ordinance passed in November to allow the hiring of part time police officers so that the authority to hire and fire the officers would be given to the mayor, who also serves as the Commissioner of Public Affairs and oversees the police department.
In its original form, the ordinance required a vote of the village council for the hiring of part-time police officers.
Commissioner Patrick Doolin, who also voted against the ordinance in its original form, objected to the change.
“It’s a very scary and very intimidating thought that the Mayor now has the authority to hire police officers with full police authority at his sole discretion,” he said.
Calderone said the change had merely been due to an oversight when the ordinance was first passed, and noted that the authority he would hold is similar to that given to other commissioners in their departments.
The only hires that normally require a council vote, he noted, are department heads.
Doolin argued that police officers, who are able to carry weapons and make arrests, hold a higher degree of authority than other employees and must be treated differently.
Full-time police officers are hired and fired by a vote of the village’s Board of Fire and Police Commissioners.
When Doolin first objected to the part-time police position being created in November on the grounds that too much authority was being given to one individual, Commissioner Tim Gillian countered with the argument that no officers could be hired without the approval of the council majority.
Calderone said that he realized there was a difference of opinion on the issue, but noted that part-time officers would be at will employees and, just as they could be hired more easily than full-time officers, they could also be fired more easily.
He said that among his goals for the part-time officers is to “change the behavior of motorists,” especially those who habitually run stop signs.
“We can’t afford to have full time officers sit there for 4 to 6 hours writing tickets,” he said.
In November, Police Chief James Ryan recommended two officers for the part-time position, though neither have yet been hired: Fran Marrocco, a Forest Park resident and former FBI agent who has worked in Crestwood as a part-time officer, and Jarleth Heverson, a former part-time officer in Lake County currently working as an auxiliary police officer in Desplaines.