Taser helps officers save lives

Just over two years ago Forest Park Police Department joined thousands of other law enforcement agencies worldwide by adding the Taser X26 as a less lethal tool for its officers.

The Taser X26 is a Conducted Electrical Weapon (CEW) that causes temporary neuromuscular incapacitation (NMI) and pain. The X26 has aided officers in handling and apprehending high-risk suspects. Agencies using Tasers have recorded a dramatic decrease in officer injuries, suspect injuries, lethal force incidents and use of force liability.

When officers confront people who are resistive and aggressive, deranged or suicidal, they are in a very dangerous and unpredictable situation. Officers may be required to use force up to and including lethal force to resolve the confrontation. The addition of the Tasers have added an effective less-lethal option for Forest Park officers which has reduced the potential of a lethal force confrontation ending in death, injury to the officers or injury to the combative suspects. The following is an example of how Tasers are saving lives in Forest Park.

Halloween night, Oct. 31, 2005, Officers responded to check the condition at a residence where the communications operator received a 911 hang-up call. Upon arrival, the first officer to the scene met with a 29-year-old male at the front door of a two-flat apartment building. He fumbled opening the door, and appeared to be intoxicated.

The resident stated that he had only played a “Halloween prank” on his girlfriend, by “pretending to hang” himself. This led the officer to believe the subject may have attempted suicide. When the officer asked to speak with someone else in the house the subject became belligerent, he began swearing and shouting that he can do what ever he wants in his own house. His mother was shouting in the background for him to “shut up” and that he was only acting this way because he had been drinking.

The intoxicated man became even more belligerent and began yelling that he has a right to defend his house and that if the officer tried to come inside he would “expletive kill” him. He slammed the door and at this point the officer called for assistance. Moments later the subject reopened the door armed with a black baseball bat. As additional Forest Park officers arrived on the scene, the father reopened the door at officers’ request.

From the open doorway officers could see the very agitated male holding the baseball bat over his head swinging it near where his mother was sitting in the living room. Officers entered the house and approached the subject ordering him to put the bat down. The irrational man yelled to officers that if they came any closer, “I will kill you.” Officers again ordered him to put the bat down. The man refused to drop the bat and raised the bat above his head in a striking position towards the officer. At this time a Taser certified officer deployed the Taser X26 to the abdomen. The subject immediately became incapacitated, fell to the floor and dropped the baseball bat. The momentary incapacitation allowed other officers to take him into custody without injury to his family, himself or the officers.

Every officer on the scene felt legally justified in using deadly force; however, the option of the Taser X26 peacefully resolved the potentially deadly encounter.

All Forest Park Police officers that choose to carry and use a Taser must first successfully complete a training/certification course given by one of the department certified instructors. During the training most officers receive a hit from the Taser. The officers learn about the Taser technology, proper use, use of force and department policy and procedures.

Numerous independent scientific studies and thousands of volunteers including voluntary exposures during training session for the Forest Park officers have proved the safety of the Taser technology. The police department would like to expand the number of Taser units so that every working officer can have a Taser as an option while protecting the residents of Forest Park.

Sgt. Eric Bell
Forest Park Police Department

Unhappy customer

On a recent Monday, I decided to take a group of mothers and three toddlers (age 2) to a nice caf that offers a kid friendly area. So I took the group to Blue Max on Lathrop Street in Forest Park, which I have been on numerous occasions. As we arrived in the restaurant, my toddler son and his friend greeted one another in recognition as they entered the play area in the back of the restaurant. Immediately, two ladies with an unfriendly attitude stood up and moved to another table and complained to the owner that the children were being too noisy. I called the owner to our table to communicate that I was aware of the situation with the ladies moving and explained that it was the second birthday of one of the toddlers and that we would manage the situation properly. To my surprise, she turned and replied that if the kids continued to make noise “we could step out with them” while they calmed down. We were disappointed with her reaction and decided to leave the restaurant. We were there for a total of 10 minutes.

Before we left, I had a conversation with the owner stating that I had acknowledged the other patron’s point of view, but I wanted the owner to realize that if patrons choose to sit by the children’s area there is going to be some noise. The owner replied that “children can be trained to have an inside voice,” and her attitude was in general, very disrespectful. In addition, I have been at the Blue Max on other occasions where patrons with their children had been much noisier. In a restaurant that claims to be kid friendly there must be an allowance for some ‘kid noise’ to take place within the children’s area. From now on, my group of peers and I will be taking our business to a restaurant that not only claims to be kid friendly, but actually is.

Adriana Missman-Rodriguez
Broadview, Ill.

Thanks for support

On behalf of the Citizens’ Committee for the Forest Park Public Library Referendum, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the voters who turned out on Nov. 7, 2006, and supported the referendum. We appreciate this demonstration of belief that a good library is important for our community, and we look forward to exciting times ahead for our library.

I would like to thank the businesses that supported the committee’s efforts: Chicago Suburban Lumbar Sales, the Golden Steer, and Ramiro’s Hair Salon.

As mentioned in earlier letters, thanks go to Forest Printing for their donated services, and we were heartened by the enthusiastic support of the Friends of the Library. I would also like to express thanks to individual donors: Andrea Blaylock, Rodger Brayden, Carole Murphy and Jerry Webster.

I am so grateful for all the hard work that was put in by the Citizens’ Committee. This consisted of Andrea Blaylock, Dan Danielson, Pat Italia, Joanne Leber, Dave McNeilly, Andre Marshall, Carole Murphy, Trudy Roznos, Rebecca Vnuk, and Jerry Webster. Thanks also to Rodger Brayden for being our spokesperson at meetings. It was a great team effort.

Karen Childs
Chairperson, Citizens’ Committee for the Forest Park Public Library Referendum

Whose 600 feet?

It was mentioned in the parking study findings that people will not walk more than 600 feet in any direction to shop once they park their cars. Is this the farthest distance a shopper will walk or is it the farthest distance a drunk can stumble back to his/her car before they drive home at 2 in the morning? The reason I ask is because the board recommends expanding the Circle and Madison lot North to Warren Street. I went to the area and I can tell you that it is almost 600 feet from the northern most proposed spots to the corner of Circle and Madison. Ironically that takes us right to the doorstep of Healy’s. Wait a second, isn’t that the same bar Commissioner Hosty manages? I am not sure if this causes a conflict of interest but I can tell you that if people come to Forest Park to shop they are going to walk more than 600 feet. Thousands of people do it every day on Michigan Avenue. A few questions that should be answered before anything moves forward;

1) What is the total cost of phase 1 going to cost from start to finish (acquiring property, demolition, construction etc.)?

2) At the last village meeting Mr. Sturino said that we could finance part of the cost. If that is the case why not look for a long term solution like a parking structure?

3) Why would a patron pay to park in the lots when it is free to park on the street?

4) This study only gives recommendations on alleviating one-third of the net demand, how many more homes will be taken for the remaining two-thirds?

This study did nothing to address the parking concerns of the residents and from what I can see is going to increase traffic in residential areas. I agree that something needs to be done but there are too many questions that need to be answered before we proceed with any decisions.

Bill Stenzel
Forest Park

Forum was a success

I would like to send along a special thank you to the Brown Cow for hosting the Meet the Candidates Night last week. The event, by all accounts, was a success. Also, to all the residents that showed up and the candidates that participated, thank you. I hope that everyone learned a little more about the people that wish to lead our community over the next four years.

John Plepel
Forest Park

Garage makes fiscal sense

I was very pleased to hear that the mayor and commissioners asked for citizen input regarding the possible acquisition of eight private properties in order to provide additional parking.

Unfortunately, acquiring these properties would involve the possible use of eminent domain by which these properties could be taken against the will of the owners. This would be very expensive, the legal costs are potentially astronomical, and the ill will impossible to calculate.

I believe the village should seriously consider building a parking garage on property already owned by the village which would require no acquisition costs, no demolition expense, and only minimal legal fees.

Such properties exist at the large lot behind Trage Brothers, at the northwest corner of Circle and Madison, and at Constitution Court.

I am now awaiting village officials to solicit citizen opinion regarding the sale of property at Altenheim to the YMCA.

James Murray
Forest Park

Editor’s note: James Murray is a columnist for the Review.