A plainclothes police officer stood at the back of a village board meeting last week at the request of the village manager and police chief. However, his presence wasn’t in response to anything within Oak Park, just a general precaution related to recent tragedies.

A gunman killed five people Feb. 7 council meeting in Kirkwood, Mo. and a former student killed five students Feb. 14 at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.

“Across America, we see these unfortunate, tragic shootings and gun violence in public venues,” Manager Tom Barwin said. “It often involves the easy access to firearms and some sort of mental illness… But there seems to be some sort of echo to this kind of behavior.”

Occasionally, an officer will attend meetings, and one always watches meetings through a video feed. Barwin said the measure was temporary, and no officer appeared to be in a board meeting this week.

“The natural reaction that occurs in universities or cities, is you see a heightened sense of security for sometime until authorities feel things have calmed back down into a regular mode of life and living,” Barwin said.

-Marty Stempniak

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