We get it. A cone of silence comes down around negotiations with public employees. It is currently being lowered in Oak Park where contract talks with rank-and-file cops are beginning.

Here’s the thing: What pay raises get agreed to, what small changes in health care are offered are pretty much irrelevant to the fundamental issue of what Oak Parkers want policing to look like in this village.

This is the moment — and the contract can be the delivery mechanism — for changes in police procedures and culture. For decades, this page has pushed hard on the truth that an essential way to change the priorities of a public institution is through the contract with its largest employee group.

 Contract after contract we have pressured school boards at the high school and elementary schools to build progressive language into those contracts around equity. Over the past eight to 10 years those changes have taken hold.

While village board members and staff go bland in their comments on this police contract, we intend to stay hard on this. Issues of discipline and transparency are contract issues. Whether our officers get a 2-percent raise or 2.5 percent is pocket change in this moment. 

Don’t lose sight of fundamental reform.

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