For over forty years I have had the privilege of serving the residents of Hickory Hills as a Police Officer. During that time, I have witnessed significant changes in Law Enforcement, as well as, within the City that I call home. Hand held walkie talkies gave way to body worn portable radios.
Traffic radar devices gave way to laser speed tracking units, in car video systems, and mobile data terminals. Needless to say, technological advances have had a major impact on how police perform their job today. Even with all these changes, the basic tenet of policing in America remains the same, as Sir Robert Peel so astutely proclaimed almost 200 years ago, “The Police are the public, and the public are the police”. In other words, serving the public interest will enhance the effectiveness of policing methods. I firmly believe in Dr. Stephen Covey’s tenet that “Organizations, both private and public, learn that they are only sustainable when they serve human needs”. Improving the quality of life for the citizens that we interact with on a professional level is paramount to the stated mission of our agency. Enhancing the personal wellness and working conditions of our employees contributes directly to the overall success of our agency. Establishing partnerships with various segments of the community establish the cornerstone of our community policing initiatives.
When it comes to the City of Hickory Hills, I have had the opportunity to witness the transformation of the business district along one of the major thoroughfares. Hickory Hills Car Clinic gave way to Jimmy Johns and McDonalds. The Lexington House is now Drive Time Car Sales. Angelo’s Diner is now Les Brothers. The Sears Service Center is now 95th Street Produce. The Delfian House, which was the Coffee Pot, is now the vacant George’s Chop House. Prime Time Restaurant was built and Golden Gate Nursery became townhomes and condominiums. Chicken Unlimited was located at the current location of Dunkin Donuts. A portion of the Hickory Hills Golf Course became Hickory Palos Square Shopping Center. PGN and Chateau Del Mar were added to the Hickory Hills Country Club. The Old North Palos Elementary School District 117 Administrative Offices are now condominiums. Dominick’s became Eagle Foods and then Fairplay Foods in Hill Creek Shopping Center. Several fast food locations where added along with two auto parts stores. Finally, the Sabre Room was closed this past year and, in the near future, will be partially developed into additional retail space. All in all, these changes provided an economic boost to our community without detracting from the rural atmosphere.
In 2016, the Department submitted an application for Emergency Telephone System Board consolidation in order to be compliant with a State of Illinois legislative mandate. Currently, this consolidation application is in the process of review and pending State approval. Once approved, the City of Hickory Hills would dissolve its ETSB and consolidate with the Villages of Summit and Bedford Park and the City of Hometown to create the Des Plaines Valley ETSB. The Village of Bedford Park will provide police and fire dispatching services for the Village of Summit, and the City of Hickory Hills will provide police and fire dispatching services for the City of Hometown. This will reduce costs associated with maintaining 911 Public Safety Answering Points while enhancing the efficiency of first responders.
Two supervisors announced their retirements from the Police Department last year and one Officer was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. Two new Police Officers were hired during 2016 and one Officer in the first month of 2017. With these new hires, roughly twenty-five percent of the Patrol Force has less than three years of service and forty-two percent of the Patrol Force has less than five years of service to the Department. This presents an opportunity for our supervisory personnel to mentor these Officers on problem solving policing methods and community policing strategies along with instilling our agency’s philosophy of improving the quality of life for our residents.
I am honored and privileged to serve as your Chief of Police and I have the great fortune of working for a City Government of elected officials who embrace the same philosophy that transcends the ranks of our Department. Addressing the needs of our community while providing professional police service to all citizens remains an integral facet of our Department’s Mission Statement.