After reading the letter titled, “Community policing vs. siege mode,” [Opinion, July 27], I wanted to clarify some key facts that are not accurate. 

The Forest Park Police Department did participate in the march. Bike officers rode alongside the marchers down Harlem Avenue and then west on Madison. I met the marchers at Harlem and Madison, along with Deputy Chief Mike Keating. I introduced myself to the event organizer and walked with him as I explained that he and his fellow marchers could stand in the middle of Madison Street from Circle to Marengo. 

Due to the large crowd, we felt it would be safer to close down that two-block stretch of Madison rather than cram everybody on sidewalks. You claim that we went into “siege mode” and did not “mingle” with demonstrators. I can’t even tell you how many people in this march approached me as well as other officers and thanked us for simply doing our jobs. 

The officers were on one rooftop and were not there as “sniper perches.” They were simply there to watch the event with a clear and unobstructed view from an elevated level. We knew that high school teachers, residents and families of all ages that participated in this march had the best of intentions. Unfortunately, in this day and age, we have to take extra precautions. 

A small group of “agitators” can disrupt any peaceful march and jeopardize the safety of the peaceful demonstrators. It is my “opinion” that your intense dislike of this police department clouds your perception.

Tom Aftanas

Chief of Police, Forest Park Police