End amateur cops

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It is time for Forest Park to fully rethink its auxiliary police force. Providing weapons and a badge to amateur cops might have been a reasonable idea in decades past, but no longer. The stakes are life and death, the liability issues immense and the always-on-the-cusp likelihood that the reputation of Forest Park's actual police department is about to take another hit is too real to continue the status quo.

Nearly a year ago, the Review reported on an incident where an auxiliary Forest Park cop left his department-issued handgun, ammunition, handcuffs and bullet-proof vest in the rear seat of his car. The items were stolen and within hours used in the murder of a man on the Forest Park-Oak Park border. Today we publish the detailed reporting of the Better Government Association and NBC5 on this case and the dubious use of auxiliary cops in departments across the state.

The Forest Park incident was a grievous violation of safety and good sense which ended a life and exposed our lawsuit-prone police department to more costly litigation. As the BGA reporting makes clear, Forest Park is not alone in the problematic use of low-paid, hardly-trained police wannabees as auxiliary officers. And we're not alone in the misuse of authority that comes with this territory.

If Forest Park needs help directing traffic or controlling crowds for the fireworks on the 4th of July, then organize a band of unarmed, undeputized men and women for this specific and limited duty.

We get that the police auxiliary is one of those hallowed, hoary Forest Park traditions. Both Mayor Anthony Calderone and Village Administrator Tim Gillian served as auxiliary cops back in the day. But it is past time to let this go, and focus on further professionalizing the full-time police force.

Diversity made real

Here's good news times two.

District 91 adopts Indigenous Peoples Day as a worthy replacement for Columbus Day.

A second incident of hate vandalism of a public mural on the Circle Avenue bridge was met with quick response from both residents and village hall.

Gradually, and not by accident, our consciousness continues to be raised on issues of inclusion and fair representation. Our public schools, immersed as they are in the hard work of racial equity, chose to drop recognition of Christopher Columbus as the great European discoverer of a "new world" and instead to offer recognition of the people who had long inhabited this continent. 

The district is working on ways to teach this inclusive lesson next October in our classrooms.

Meanwhile, residents, police and village staff acted quickly this time to override the intentions of the vandal who has twice blocked out the "No Human is Illegal" portion of a mural over the Ike. The incident was documented, the artwork repainted and the resolve strengthened that this message be heard in our village.

Reader Comments

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Greg Mitchell  

Posted: May 8th, 2019 5:45 PM

I truly respect the professional fully trained police we have in Forest Park. My question is would we allow a part time doctor, lawyer, or accountant to practice without full training and licensing. Are we saying that the people we allow to carry guns, and in the right case, shoot people should be any less trained than their full time counterparts? I have a hard time supporting a less than fully trained, armed police force.

Chuck Taddeo  

Posted: May 8th, 2019 2:20 PM

The Review presented their case for ending auxiliary police, I wonder how the police feel about that so we can hear from both sides of the issue. In a world where people spit in the face of police officers I think they would welcome all the help they could get when dealing with crowds. I dont know, that's why their opinion would be helpful. Summerfest did get a little flash mob cra cra, paying 5 bucks to get in music fest was well worth it.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: May 7th, 2019 7:17 PM

Who's here do you see saying FoPa doesn't need the police, Tricoci? I covered those events the year before they closed, and they had tac cops from as far away as Lake County to. help with the gang threat. But the story here is about irresponsible auxillary officers.

John Tricoci Sr  

Posted: May 7th, 2019 6:23 AM

Do you remember why Summer Fest and Fireworks where cancelled??That why you need the Police.

Dion Ewald  

Posted: May 5th, 2019 9:40 PM

Steven, please explain exactly how such a proposal is preposterous. Crossing guards aren't cops, but they do a great service and motorists respect their authority. Crowd control at concerts and other large events has long been handled just fine by civilians (think Andy Frain if that helps). There's a LOTTA jobs that can get done without a badge or gun needed and a lot of people willing to volunteer.

Steven Woltman  

Posted: May 3rd, 2019 3:30 PM

"If Forest Park needs help directing traffic or controlling crowds for the fireworks on the 4th of July, then organize a band of unarmed, undeputized men and women for this specific and limited duty." LOL What you're proposing is preposterous. This is yet another example of not thinking about the consequences. It amazes me how soft in the brain people are becoming. Let's keep blaming the victim instead of the offender...that's the ticket! It's as if some evil force is pushing for chaos and liberals (and those on mental health meds) are the delivery vehicle.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: April 24th, 2019 12:08 AM

Just more of that ol' "thinly veiled attempt to give one group a platform to lash out at public officials and other citizens who they feel do not conform sufficiently to their views on issues," huh JJ? Life's just getting tougher and tougher for you reactionary conservative types , ain't it?

Geoff Binns-Calvey  

Posted: April 23rd, 2019 4:58 PM

Should be a comma before and after "Dwyer"...

JJ Harrington  

Posted: April 23rd, 2019 4:51 PM

Like you Dwyer this rag continues to spout sophomoric commentary on local issues.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: April 23rd, 2019 3:23 PM

Woooo-EEE! So JJ, there some back story to your outrage you're not sharing? 'Cause you're upset are flinging spittle over this.

Geoff Binns-Calvey  

Posted: April 23rd, 2019 7:28 AM

It's "journalists"...

JJ Harrington  

Posted: April 22nd, 2019 11:45 PM

This is truly a pathetic excuse for a local newspaper if you can even call it that., Haley, the fact that you call yourself a journalist shows how illiterate you really are. I know journalist and you are not one.

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