As the village plans for 2022, our newly elected board of trustees has an opportunity to make good on its promise of big new ideas and real investments in our community’s well-being. With the 2022 budget, this board can set a new course, making a good-faith commitment to a more equitable vision of public safety. Eighteen months after last year’s racial reckoning, it is time to build a future that is both safer and more compassionate for everyone in our community.

The Oak Park Village Board can lead our community into this safer, healthier future by allocating $800,000 expressly for the creation of a non-police crisis intervention team in their 2022 Budget. This amount is independent of the police department’s budget, but represents about 3% of the department’s proposed 2022 budget — which aligns with commitments other communities have made when establishing similar programs. This proposal would fund about four non-police interventions a day, with the intent to increase this number over time as trust in civilian professionals grows and the community adds clinical capacity.

This approach to health and safety is part of a growing Treatment Not Trauma movement across the country and here in our backyard. Denver is expanding its Support Team Assisted Response program, which has handled hundreds of crisis calls without needing to involve police even once. Closer to home, Evanston is building a system similar to Denver’s, and Maywood is collaborating with neighboring communities to find a way to route some 911 calls exclusively to mental health professionals. In August, Governor Pritzker signed the Community Emergency Services and Supports Act (CESSA), which will require emergency response operators to refer calls seeking mental and behavioral health support to a service that can dispatch a team of qualified professionals instead of police.

With the Illinois CESSA legislation, federal ARPA grant money, and successful examples of this model around the country, Oak Park is well-equipped to create a non-police crisis response program that works for our community. It’s time to build intent into action by allocating funds toward creating this team in 2022. Let’s make Oak Park a leader in providing mental health services, compassion, care, and support to our community members when they are at their most vulnerable.

Brandon Johnson, Cook County Commissioner 1st District – Norma Hernandez – Tim Thomas – Madhurima Chakraborty, Trustee, Oak Park Public Library Board – Matthew Fruth – Susanne Fairfax – Virginia Bloom – Gavin Kearney – Kina Collins – Anthony Clark – Athena Williams – Terri Powell – Cassandra West – Kevin Barnhart – Jacquelyn Rodriguez – Makesha Flournoy-Benson – Ana Garcia Doyle – John Duffy – Rob Breymaier – John Edgerton – Henry Fulkerson – Dot Lambshead Roche – Sheela Raja* – Paul Goyette – Jenna Holzberg – Shobha Mahadev – Jenna Leving Jacobson – Lynette Hish* – Rev. C.J. Hawking – Jim Schwartz – Suzanne Feeney – Swati Saxena – Michelle Mascaro – Darlene Kitterman – Barnali Khuntia – Samina Hadi-Tabassum – Cate Readling – Julie Justicz – Laura and Scott Sakiyama – Alicia Chastain – Christine Fenno – Kelly Bencola – Derek Eder – Rebecca Davis* – James Pfluecke – Michelle Major – Kate Walz – Colleen Cira* – Lisa Pintado-VertnerRanga Bodla – Aarti Tejuja* – Aneel Chablani – Dr. Erika Montgomery* – Amisha Patel – Neena Hemmady – Katherine Liebl – Reshma Desai – Alexandra Sherman* – Adam Paradis – Alan Raphael* – Sean Fulkerson – Laurette Anderson – Steve Krasinsky – Claire Battle – Marcy Grant – Madeline Loy – Matt Collier – Nicole Sumida* – Marge Epstein* – Terrence Roche – Matthew Ash – Matty Ash – Cheslynn Ash – Elizabeth Forte* – Natalie Young – Elana Kranz – Sebastien Gros – Deborah Fletcher – Laura Noah – Sharmili Majmudar – Ryan Jacobson, MD – Andrew Williams-Clark – Rekha Rajkumar – Aaron McManus – Jason Jenkins – Dr. Stacey Belmont*, Director, Belmont Depression and Anxiety Center – Joan Dyer – Kathleen O’Keefe – Michele Freiburg – Marjoyre Wright – Jessica Freiburg – Eric S Forte – Monali Shah – Stephen Hempel – Kisa Marx – Alexandra Blom – Richa Singhal – Melisa Alabsy – Ian Steckler – Molly Mansfield – Mary Davis Fournier – Kate Odom, PsyD* – Beth Micucci – Melissa Foster – Nikhil Trivedi – Kim Jackewicz – Lisa Rader – Katrina Funk – Emma Meade – Anne McNamee-Keels – Janice Lodato – Libbey Paul – Yvonne Judice – Dagmar Schalliol – Samantha Chapman – George C. Valaika – Jennifer Ash – Pat Carew – Julia Nash – Mary Bird – John Murphy – Kelley Clink – Amy Overby – Remer Brinson – Lauren Robinzine – Andrea Charest – Darlene Kitterman – Barnali Khuntia – Marie MacBain – Donna Villa – Dorelle Miller – Kris Stokes – Kelly Brinson – Margaret Bracey – Charlene Cliff – Sarah Gray – Puja Mohindra – Bianca Bradshaw-Castillo – Jillian Karl – Brittany Russell – Brieanne Maldonado-Cruz – Whitney King – Christy Cutts – Varsha Hemmady-Wroght – Martha Martinez – Gavin Souter – Rick Villa – Norine Gutekanst – Mary Katherine Powell – Joan Davis – Anne Mellios – Miranda Johnson – Tom Johnson – Celine Woznica – Mary Ann Buck – Samantha Ashley – Thomas Katers – Katharine Thurman – Steven Hish-Frisbie – Nora Schlesinger – Shira Leon

* Mental health professional

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