Three months after Forest Park commissioners agreed to lend police officers to a regional task force targeting area gangs, the organization is nearly operational, according to a department chief behind the initiative.
Since January, officers from seven area departments have participated in training exercises intended to familiarize those cops with various aspects of gang activity. According to Berwyn Police Chief William Kushner, task force members have worked with the Chicago Police Department and the U.S. Marshall’s office.
“We expect them to be operational, in that mode on the street, by March 1,” Kushner said.
Four officers from the Forest Park Police Department have rotated through the training exercises, according to Sgt. Mike Keating. Three of the participants are members of Forest Park’s tactical unit, including Keating, which targets street crimes and gang related activity.
In addition to Kushner’s department, Forest Park officers are working with police from the west suburban communities of Cicero, Lyons, North Riverside, Oak Park and Riverside. According to the task force bylaws, officers will investigate gang activity on an as needed basis. A priority of the task force is to pool department resources and quell the presence of gangs in those communities.
“Gangs are so mobile,” Chief Eugene Karczewski of Riverside said. “They are going through every community in the west suburban area.”
In addition to training exercises the police chiefs who make up the task force board of directors have met regularly to discuss logistics. Still absent, however, is a director who will likely be appointed from within the ranks of participating departments. The director will be responsible for assigning shifts, cases, additional training and other day-to-day management duties. According to Kushner, the board has not begun considering who might get the nod to lead the task force.