by Lynn Meredith
The Maple Park Village Board sorted out the hiring of police officers at its meeting on Feb 3.
The board voted down a motion to accept two police officers to be part of a pool of candidates for future employment, and it tabled a motion to hire another officer under a probationary period. It also approved the hiring of two officers already working for the department by taking them off probation.
The 1-4 vote not to accept the candidates and the 4-1 vote to table the hiring of another came after lengthy discussion. Erl Pederson, chairman of the Police Committee, voted in opposition to the rest of the board. He strongly urged the board to consider the short-staffed Police Department, which is operating despite the medical leave of one officer and the recent resignation of another.
“We’re in a very serious situation in regards to employees for the Police Department. We don’t have enough people to go around. We have one officer in charge, and we have one policeman who can give us time,” Pederson said.
Committee member Kathy Curtis explained to the board that on Dec. 15, the Police Committee interviewed six part-time officers. Three of the six were chosen to be given background checks and further consideration. She said that the committee never met to discuss the results of the background checks and which ones would be hired under probation and which ones would be left in a pool for future employment.
“We never had a Police Committee meeting, and no conclusions were ever made about which ones were going on probation and which were not,” Curtis said. “My point being this never went to committee, and it’s supposed to be a majority vote to be able to put a motion like this on the agenda.”
Village President Ross Dueringer said he was told that the candidate being hired was the only one who could give the department any hours.
Pederson commented to the board following the decision to not accept the two officers for future employment.
“Again it’s been demonstrated that everyone wants anything but what’s good for the village of Maple Park,” he said.