The village council, Tuesday night, was set to approve a crackdown on reckless driving connected with gang funerals, Forest Park Deputy Chief Thomas Aftanas said.
The village was poised to vote to expand the ordinance dictating when police could impound cars to include reckless driving during gang funerals.
“We’re looking at cases of drivers leap-frogging in the [funeral] procession,” Aftanas said. “Also, we’ve had cases of people sitting halfway out car windows. It’s caused accidents.”
Gang funeral processions occasionally travel from Chicago through Oak Park and Forest Park and put police on alert, Aftanas said.
According to the new ordinance, traffic violations committed during a funeral that’s known to be gang-related can incur a $500 fine and impounding of the vehicle.
The ordinance is similar to that passed in response to problems in the 19th Ward in Chicago’s Beverly/Morgan Park neighborhood where Ald. Matt O’Shea spearheaded a similar rule.
O’Shea told the Chicago Sun-Times that gang funeral processions, headed to Mount Hope Cemetery, travel through his ward, intimidating residents and causing traffic accidents.
Local and regional police were on high alert last July when a Cicero member of the Almighty Insane Cicero Latin Counts was shot by a Cicero officer and buried in Forest Home Cemetery. Fellow gang members threatened online to shoot a cop in retaliation for the death of Cesar Munive, 22.
Forest Park police, as well as officers from Chicago, Cook County Sheriff’s police, and West Suburban Drug/Gang Enforcement (WEDGE) officers all kept track of the wake and funeral, with a police helicopter hovering over Forest Park for two days. Though cars of several gang members were stopped in Berwyn paying respects at a funeral home on Roosevelt Road during the wake, mourners in Forest Park did not engage in any activity that resulted in arrest.
Forest Park often has traffic issues with funeral processions, Aftanas pointed out. On Sept. 14, around noon, a gap in a procession resulted in a van being hit by another car travelling through a green light at Roosevelt Road and First Avenue. The van overturned and two women were taken to the hospital. They were treated for minor injuries.
That funeral was not gang-related, Aftanas said.
Two new officers to be hired
The village council was expected to approve expanding the pool of Forest Park police officer candidates by two because two officers are set to retire. Police Chief James Ryan submitted a memo asking the Forest Park Board of Fire and Police Commissioners to replace Lt. Michael Cody and Patrick Tierney.
The department announced they were hiring in July and scheduled a police exam in August. Once officer candidates take the test, along with submitting a Peace Officer Wellness Evaluation Report (POWER), candidates are interviewed and screened with a background investigation. The department will then choose two candidates to be sent to the police academy with pay for 12 to 14 weeks.
A Forest Park officer’s starting salary is $53,589.92. The department has 39 sworn officers.