Chief Shatonya Johnson (Village of Oak Park)

The Oak Park Village Board has entered into a new contract with BerryDunn, the consulting firm that was previously contracted to carry out an assessment of the village’s police department. The contract, worth $63,500, has BerryDunn building on those earlier efforts. 

“At this point, we would need BerryDunn to help us with a strategic plan and an implementation plan moving forward,” Police Chief Shatonya Johnson said at the board’s April 24 meeting.

All village board members — excluding Trustee Jim Taglia, who was absent — voted to approve the professional agreement.

The results of BerryDunn’s assessment, which was released last November, included 42 police equity recommendations, nearly 14 of which have already been implemented, according to Johnson. Under this new contract, the firm will oversee putting those that remain into effect. 

This came at the request of Police Chief Shatonya Johnson, who said the understaffed department did not have the ability to sufficiently execute the remaining recommendations while also attending to regular police duties.

“We determined it would be necessary to enlist BerryDunn to help us be more efficient in completing the recommendations,” Johnson said. 

BerryDunn’s Michele Weinzetl, who served as project lead during the assessment, appeared at the board meeting via Zoom to explain the scope of services that the firm would carry out within a period of six or seven months. 

These services involve the prioritization of the remaining recommendations, as well as the creation of implementation timelines with actionable steps. The firm, which staffs former law enforcement officials, will then facilitate implementation remotely. BerryDunn will also train officers and village supervisors on change and resistance, critical thinking and problem solving. 

Most of the recommendations related to state-mandated officer training and high-risk training have already been implemented within the department, according to Johnson. A different consultant is being utilized to work around the restraints of the department’s current record management system until a new system can be acquired. 

The police chief’s willingness to work with the police consulting firm was applauded by the village board. Trustee Susan Buchanan told Johnson she could easily see other police chiefs filing the consultant’s findings away instead of putting them into effect.

“I just want to commend you, Chief Johnson, and our police department for embracing the BerryDunn report,” said Trustee Susan Buchanan. 

Join the discussion on social media!