As the country continues to grapple with police issues and systemic racism in law enforcement, the village of Oak Park and the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) will soon begin negotiating a successor contract for patrol officers. 

“The actual negotiations are expected to begin later this week,” said Oak Park Communications Director David Powers. 

The current patrol officer contract expires Dec. 31, giving the village a unique opportunity to address national issues over policing and race that are also felt locally, but with both parties staying mum, it is unclear whether if or how those matters will be addressed. 

Lisa Shelley, deputy village manager, will represent the village government in negotiations, while representatives from the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Lodge 8 will represent patrol officers. 

Shelley confirmed that the parties were getting the process started but declined to comment further, stating she did not take calls from the press during negotiations.

Oak Park police officer and FOP Lodge 8 president Joseph Nash also refused Wednesday Journal’s request for an interview.  

“We look forward to sitting down with the village to reach a new collective bargaining agreement, but FOP Lodge 8 does not comment on ongoing negotiations,” Nash said in an email to Wednesday Journal.

The two groups have not begun discussions in earnest but have been in contact with each other, according to Powers. 

“They have been talking about scheduling and virtual platforms,” Powers told Wednesday Journal.

The Oak Park village board received an overview of the negotiation process in an executive session Nov. 2, but trustees did not share details so as not to derail contract talks. 

“The only meeting we have had is an informational meeting, informing us of how the process works and we got some questions answered,” said Trustee Susan Buchanan.

Trustee Deno Andrews wouldn’t comment on what was specifically addressed during the executive session but stated that the village board does not usually provide concrete goals to Shelley ahead of negotiations.  

“Typically, we don’t give the negotiator a hard list of things to accomplish,” said Andrews.

According to Andrews, the board gives Shelley a broad idea of what they would like to see addressed during negotiations.

“Negotiators start working with each other and then ideas start to formulate there, and the specifics come out of the negotiations,” said Andrews.

Police discipline and transparency is a hot button issue for the Oak Park board of trustees but certain aspects of it are mandated by state law, which the village has no latitude over.

Since Oak Park cannot change Illinois law as a whole, Trustee Arti Walker-Peddakotla felt that the contract should not implement policies that strengthen the impediments presented by state mandates.

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