Tag Archives: Maple Park Police Department

Books bring relief to kids in crisis

by Lynn Meredith
Children are often the forgotten participants when a crisis strikes. If a family is involved in an accident, the police are called to a domestic crisis, or there’s a fire, the parents are involved in filling out paperwork and talking with the police, but what are the kids doing?

That’s the question the Maple Park Police Department hopes to address as it participates in the “With Wings and a Halo” R.E.A.C.H program. The program supplies police officers, ambulances and other workers who arrive on the scene of a crisis with children’s books, not only to keep the kids occupied, but to put a smile on their faces.

“Books will be the new tool the Maple Park Police Department will use to communicate with children in crisis situations,” Community Relations Officer Buz Hodges said. “The department’s and the organization’s mission is to ‘put a smile on the face of a child in the time of crisis.'”

The organization is called “With Wings and a Halo” R.E.A.C.H. It began after children’s author, Paul Scott Gilbertson from Wisconsin, visited the site of 9/11 and thought of all the children affected by the destruction of the World Trade Center towers. He created the program to help kids during tragedies.

“Each squad will carry a B.A.C.K. Be a Cheerful Kid packet with 12 to 15 books to be given to children involved in a stressful incident. The books are for children from 3 to 15 years of age and are donated to the police department at no cost by R.E.A.C.H.,” Hodges said.

Through individual donations, corporate gifts, grants and direct contributions, the organization has donated 60,000 books to departments in all 72 counties of Wisconsin and parts of Illinois. They have waiting lists for donations in Illinois, Michigan and Minnesota.

“It’s a good thing for kids in a bad situation and one more tool for our underfunded police department,” Hodges said.

Let the people decide

MP police referendum puts question to voters
by Lynn Meredith
All referendum questions have one thing in common: They all ask for money to pay for services. Maple Park’s police referendum is no different. It is seeking additional dollars to help fund police department operations.

The Village Board members agree that the department does not have enough money to operate effectively. They are asking for what amounts to taxes of $16 more per year on a $100,000 house for the first year and small increases through 2012.

Currently, five part-time officers provide 56 hours of patrol coverage each week. Additionally, an officer is on-call for one eight-hour shift every 24 hours. If an emergency arises when no patrol coverage is provided, Maple Park relies on the Kane County Sheriff’s Department to respond to the scene and stabilize the situation until an on-call officer from Maple Park can arrive.

“The police referendum that is on the ballot, if passed, would be a revenue stream that would support the Police Department in general,” Trustee Kathy Curtis said.

With a police budget of $93,000, the department faces the issue of not only paying the costly on-call hours, but also retaining enough officers to staff the force.

“They are not overpaid,” President Ross Dueringer said. “We’re giving them $16 an hour to take a bullet.”
While all the trustees agree that the question should be placed on the ballot, trustee Terry Borg does not support its passage.

“Until this board gets our act together, until we exhaust all avenues of aid from the county, we can’t expect anybody to vote for increases in taxes,” Borg said. “I did vote to place the referendum (on the ballot). I believe citizens should have the opportunity to vote on it.”

He sees problems with the use of on-call to operate the Police Department.

“The on-call policy is a budget-breaker for us,” Borg said.

Dueringer is not happy with the arrangement, but said they are doing the best they can with limited funds. He advocates passing the referendum to help solve the issues.

Borg said that internal politics have gotten in the way of hiring a police chief.

“Why do we not have a police chief? I continue to ask that question. We’ve spent $1,000 or more on ads,” Borg said.

Curtis said that since the board could not stop arguing about money and that there simply is not enough, the best thing is to put the issue to the residents.

Village adjusts police referendum

by Lynn Meredith

The Maple Park Village Board amended the proposition it approved in December to place a referendum for police services on the April ballot so that it would yield the dollars necessary to operate the department.

In December, the board voted to raise the tax levy limitation from .51 to .56. However, Village Attorney Pat Bond reported that the increase would not yield the amount needed to operate the Police Department.

He suggested the board increase the tax rate from .35 to .40. Raising both the levy limitation and the tax rate will yield an additional $16,000 to $20,000 for the village.

A levy is the amount the village requests in order to satisfy its budget expenditures. It levies taxes to accommodate those obligations.

A rate is the amount that will be collected. It represents the amount assessed on each property. These rates yield a certain number of dollars the village gets back from the County Clerk.

If the referendum passes, the owner of a $100,000 house would see an increase in taxes of approximately $16.

Staffing woes continue for MP police

by Lynn Meredith

Maple Park is once again searching for police officers to staff its department.

The village hired three part-time officers in August. Police Committee Chairman Erl Pederson announced at Tuesday’s Village Board meeting that one of those officers resigned and another will do so in the next 60 days.

Sergio Fuentes resigned on Tuesday after having been promoted to Sergeant in the Earlville Police Department. An increased workload and time commitments conflict with the hours he works for Maple Park.

Trustee Terry Borg is concerned that the village is losing officers so frequently.

“There doesn’t seem to be a strategy with the Police Department. It seems to be a revolving door,” Borg said. “Are we doing something different this time than last time, given that we just went through this?”

The Police Committee would need to run background checks on new candidates, and even though the cost is minimal, it takes time and effort.

“We go through a certain amount of grief in this process,” Village President Ross Dueringer said. “I can understand some hesitation, but we still need somebody to fill the hole.”

Dueringer suggested that the committee get a pool of police officer candidates to choose from when vacancies arise.

Three officers have completed the 90-day probation period, but the board voted to extend the probationary period for another 30 days to allow time for Police Department head Chuck Slater to write a report on how each officer has met expectations.

At the Feb. 3 meeting, the Village Board will take action either to extend probation, terminate employment or bring the officers on non-probationary status.