In the wake of Orland Hills Police Department layoffs for reasons described as budget limitations, a board member from the union representing the officers doesn’t buy the reasoning.
Metropolitan Alliance of Police board member John Ward said he believes the village can pay the officers but have chosen not to. Ward citied the village’s winter newsletter where Mayor Kyle Hastings describes the recently-opened facility as a “major economic engine” for the village.
“The Village of Orland Hills government is a model of fiscal responsibility with optimal services to its residents,” Ward wrote in a letter. “They have had nineteen consecutive balanced budgets. The new OTB may generate enough revenues to allow rebates to residents.”
And that’s exactly why Ward believes the staffing reduction “reeks of retaliation for refusing to be strong-armed into concessions.”
On April 25, the Orland Hills Village Board approved laying off three full-time and 20 part-time personnel from the village’s police. Village Administrator John Daly told Mike Nolan with Sun Times Media that an agreement couldn’t be reached with MAP, who represents the Orland Hills officers, and a reduction was the option taken. The layoffs leave five full-time officers to cover three shifts through a 24-hour period. Two other full-time officers are on medical leave, but still remain with the Orland Hills force.
Chief Tom Scully and Deputy Chief Mike Blaha will be assuming patrol duties on the day and afternoon shifts to compensate, according to the report.
Messages left with Daly and Scully on Wednesday were not returned.
“The revenue generated by the OTB will be placed in a separate line item in our budget,” Hastings wrote in the winter newsletter. “Resources generated by this facility will not be placed in a category where the town will depend on this revenue stream. This will supplement auxiliary services, help special programs and be held for rebates to our residents providing there is a sufficient amount.”
Ward said the force reduction could be a safety risk, though Daly assured in the Sun Times report that there won’t be problems.
“Somewhere they said an offer was made (to MAP), but if you’re asking for concessions, you aren’t making an offer,” Ward said. “I think it’s very disingenuous.”
Ray Violetto, who represented the Orland Hills officers for MAP, said the layoffs were a "knee-jerk reaction." He also said filling all the needed shifts with only five active full-time officers will be very difficult.
"Starting on May 11, they’ll have 92 shifts to fill by five officers for the month," Violetto said. "I don’t know how five guys will fill 92 shifts. Even if you work them 16 hours a day I don’t think that would cover it. I’m not clear on what they are trying to do, unless they want to get rid of the police force."
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