City Desk

This has been a stressful time for many of us. Hopefully the worst is over and we can look forward to returning to a more normal routine.

Police reform has been in the forefront of the news for quite some time. I can tell you however, that police reform does not happen in 90 days, or six months or some other set time period as espoused by many politicians and others who now have the attention of the news media. Police reform is an ongoing effort which requires the political will and commitment to stay with it and continue the efforts.

When I ran for office in 1997, one of the key issues was rebuilding our police department. Through the years, and with the full backing of the City Council, we have continued that effort. With the hiring of Chief Dennis Koletsos, the path to national accreditation for our police department was set. We achieved this goal in 2002, gaining certification by CALEA (Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies). We are only one of a handful of police departments in our state to achieve this status, we are one of less than 500 nationally.

This is accomplished through continuous training, implementing nationally recognized policies and procedures and adopting forward thinking protocols. Most importantly, it takes the will of the administration and elected officials to see it through. The Northlake Police Department has maintained its accreditation for over 18 years and I would like to thank our current police chief, Norm Nissen, Jr., and the men and women of the Northlake Police Department, for continuing these efforts and maintaining a truly professional organization. We continue to achieve new levels of transparency that include forming a citizen group to review our police Use of Force and Citizen Complaints policies since Chief Nissen was appointed.

The investment in our department has not gone unnoticed by our residents. In 2008, a referendum for a bond issue to build a new police station was approved and the department was able to move into the current state of the art building which is designed for the safety and well being of both the officers and those they interact with. In 2019, I strongly supported our police department efforts to conduct a survey for both the general public and those that have received service from the department. Over 700 responses were received that resulted in over 90% plus approval ratings. We continue to receive sample surveys of our police department performance in 2020 that continue to achieve excellent ratings.

The City Council, the residents and myself are all proud of the way the department conducts itself. However, we must not become complacent and think our job is finished. Policing requires an ongoing commitment and dedication of resources for training, equipment and salaries for qualified individuals. We have updated our webpage to include even more information available concerning police interaction with the public. Rather than calling for defunding the police department, police reform will require the ongoing commitment to invest in continuing positive change, and not just following past practice. Our police department is committed to seek ways to be more efficient while holding the line on expenses. We support our officers and will never tolerate criminal conduct by those that are sworn to uphold the law.

Due to a lack of funding for social support programs, many non-police matters have fallen upon the police department as a matter of last resort. Our police department has had success stories dealing with homeless individuals, drug overdoses, hoarding situations and individuals who are suffering from dementia and other mental illnesses among the many other social welfare issues.

I call upon our Federal, State and County officials to provide funding for agencies to deal with these problems so that the police can deal with issues of crime and neighborhood safety.

Police reform is not easy or cheap, and we are committed to continuous investment in our police department. It takes real political will to make it happen, not blue ribbon committees, endless studies or empty platitudes in front of a microphone. On behalf of the men and woman of the Northlake Police Department I say thank you for allowing our officers to earn your continued support.

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