LaDon Reynolds is not retiring from policing. He is leaving the top post in the Oak Park Police Department by mid-April to, we believe sincerely, spend time with his young family. But that break is more in anticipation that the absurd D.C. Republican roadblock to his appointment as U.S. Marshal for Northern Illinois will eventually break loose and then he will move into a demanding job.

Meanwhile, in our view, Reynolds is also doing an honorable thing by stepping down from his lame-duck status as Oak Park’s police chief. 

Two reasons that is the right thing to do:

Oak Park is still at the start of what will be an ongoing process of rethinking policing in the village. The current village president and board have made a sincere promise that it will undertake a genuine review of how we police, how the police department collaborates with the community, how additional adjacent resources can be melded into public safety. 

For this to work Oak Park needs a police chief in place now who will be there through, and to, the conclusion of this effort. LaDon Reynolds cannot play that role. 

Secondly, Oak Park has a brand-new village manager in Kevin Jackson. He has experience in, among other topics, police reform in his previous work. He deserves the opportunity to choose his own chief to partner with him and the community in this essential work. Waiting two months, six months, for the petulant Sen. Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, to lift his hold on Reynolds nomination is too long for Oak Park and its manager.

Are we sorry to see LaDon Reynolds go? Yes and no. On the rare occasions when we have watched Chief Reynolds engage with the public or with us, his understanding of policing is quite remarkable. Whether he is talking about policing through history, the origins of modern policing philosophy, technology in policing, race and racism in policing, it is like sitting in a post-graduate course. 

But his willingness and his ability to translate all that knowledge and perspective to the community level, to be responsive to legitimate questions and concerns, well, we haven’t heard much of that.

We are hopeful that the deeply held conviction of Village President Vicki Scaman and the early signs from Manager Jackson that they want leaders within village hall to be much more visible, much more willing to engage, will result in a new police chief willing to come out of the police bunker in the basement of village hall to listen, to talk, and to share with Oak Park residents.

And we wish LaDon Reynolds the best in his new position — whenever the Senate gets around to doing its job.

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