Last Thursday, Sgt. Dan Harder of the Forest Park Police Department was suspended by the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners for allegedly swearing at a subordinate officer and lying about his whereabouts during one of many sick days.
The accusations of political retribution already voiced will likely only scratch the surface, and as Police Chief James Ryan seeks Harder's termination in upcoming hearings, it is not unlikely that old wounds from the department's infamous sexual harassment case will be opened.
In the midst of all the politics that will surely surround this case, all we can ask is that the commissioners give both sides equal attention and consider all arguments over the course of the hearings.
From attending Thursday's hearing, one could not help but get the impression that the commissioners had already made up their mind before entering Village Hall. They voted to suspend Harder without pay based on a vague argument that putting him on paid leave would hinder the morale of the department.
The closed session meeting during which the decision was made took all of 10 minutes at best.
The Review, of course, does not intend to take sides on this matter until all the facts have been presented.
Certainly, taking over 50 sick days in 6 months is valid cause for concern and possible termination unless there is a valid medical explanation. The swearing charge does seem a bit petty, especially compared to past charges within the department that did not result in unpaid suspensions or terminations, but maybe there is more to it than meets the eye.
We just hope that when the board does vote on whether to fire Harder, they will vote based on the evidence in front of them rather than whatever preconceptions they brought in with them. Doing so, we believe, would have to take more than a few minutes.
ADA plan benefits all
Before a recent meeting of the Disability Advisory Committee, a passerby asked who the meeting was for. One of the committee members was overheard answering "it's for you in 20 years."
The comment was a bit startling at the time, but it's true. Whether or not we're technically disabled, all of us fortunate enough to live to old age will eventually be faced with physical limitations ?" staircases too high to climb, doors too heavy to open, and the list goes on.
For this reason, we hope that the request made by local disabled residents to have a plan for compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act put on paper will be met with quick action.
The village has done relatively well in dealing with disability issues in the past, and we see no reason to believe that this will not continue. We hope to see the village and the Progress Center collaborate in the coming months to ensure that the federally mandated plan finally gets drafted.