During the past week, there have been a couple of unusual incidents involving police and security staff response in Riverside. In both instances, the reaction by staff was quick, decisive and correct. The reactions in both cases almost surely prevented real harm to a young person and are to be commended.
Riverside’s a small town and, as is often the case, its police department gets accused of being somewhat parochial and sheltered from the kinds of serious situations seen in more urban suburbs.
The reality is that Riverside is part and parcel of the Chicago metro area and wholly susceptible to anything that happens in the city. To believe otherwise is naïve.
In the case of Monday’s missing persons incident, Riverside’s size may actually have been beneficial. Police were able to quickly identify this situation as different and serious, and they immediately began a full-blown search that involved many agencies, including a helicopter that was ultimately the key factor in the discovery of the girl who was in real danger of freezing to death.
Important decisions were made by the shift commander, a sergeant, on the ground. It was his initiative, according to the police chief, that was crucial in leading to the wide scope of the search. That speaks well of the training the officers receive and are encouraged to pursue in Riverside.
Training also played an important role in the arrest of a man with a history of preying on young boys on Saturday. Just a day earlier, Riverside police and three other police agencies held an intruder drill at Riverside-Brookfield High School.
The next day, an intruder gained access to the school during a busy sports weekend and set about roaming the hallways in search of a young boy. He was interrupted when he ran into a female security staffer, who ordered him out of the area and immediately called 911 to report his presence.
Police found him minutes later in the pool area and arrested him. The intruder turned out to be a man paroled just two weeks ago from state prison. He had been sent to a halfway house on Chicago’s South Side to complete his three-year sentence for aggravated assault.
In 2011, he was convicted of groping young men at a health club in St. Charles. Quick thinking, bolstered by effective training likely prevented a repeat incident at Riverside-Brookfield High School.