What started as an objection by a new village president in Oak Park to laying out $300,000 to upgrade the obsolete police shooting range in the basement of that town’s village hall has now grown into the possibility of a state-of-the art police training facility shared by many local towns, including Riverside, Brookfield and North Riverside, and hosted at Triton College.
This, we’d say, is the power of collaboration.
After Anan Abu-Taleb, Oak Park’s president, spiked the Oak Park-only solution he turned to Forest Park Mayor Anthony Calderone and River Forest Village President Cathy Adduci to explore a three-town version of a police shooting range.
It was then that Adduci said: Why not go big and ask Triton, the community college serving towns up and down the Des Plaines River, if it would consider building a shared facility?
The Landmark has now obtained the survey Triton conducted among 25 police chiefs and city managers and the results are enthusiastic. In fact the survey suggests that Triton consider various police training add-ons including driver simulation units and heavy weapons training.
Police chiefs are looking for a one-stop option and Brookfield police Lt. Edward Petrak makes a further interesting point. Petrak said that in a crisis situation it is neighboring police departments that are certain to provide backup. If officers from various Triton communities have trained together over years, it will result in a more cohesive response.
For many years as the cost of local government has risen, and with it property tax bills, we have urged village boards and managers to seek out shared services. While early in this process, this is a sterling example of the benefits of elected officials who have gotten the clear message that old ways are often unaffordable and that new thinking is simply essential.
It was Calderone who made the first public mention of this concept at a recent luncheon sponsored by the Oak Park Chamber of Commerce. He shared the microphone with Adduci and Abu-Taleb, and used the shooting range concept as an example of ways these villages can work together.
The creation of a shared fire district, an idea we have long backed, was also raised by Calderone and the others. This is a more complex topic with both logistical and personnel challenges. But, in light of what North Riverside is facing with its pension crisis, that cannot stop the active exploration of a money-saving opportunity.
Sharing expensive equipment and cutting administrative costs only makes sense. These fire departments are already bound by very effective mutual-aid pacts.
With survey results in hand, the next step is Triton’s. The school already has a well-regarded law-enforcement training program. Adding this training facility would only add to the school’s resources.
And frankly, Triton badly needs to create new programs that link its feeder districts, that reinforce that this dubiously governed institution has purpose beyond mere self-perpetuation.