River Forest joins community data-sharing collective

Cooperative consists of 11 communities that want to improve operations

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By Nona Tepper

 River Forest trustees unanimously approved the village's participation in the Northern Illinois Benchmarking Cooperative (NIBC) at a regular board meeting, Jan. 8. NIBC is a collaboration among several communities that compares strategies and data about how to best run a local government. 

River Forest will pay $5,781 to join the collective, which includes the communities of Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, Buffalo Grove, Schaumburg, Glencoe, Wilmette, Lincolnshire, Arlington Heights, Hoffman Estates and Mount Prospect. Because the 2018 budget did not include funds for the initiative, this year River Forest's participation will be funded from surplus revenues, and the 2019 budget will allocate funds for participation. 

What participation entails is collecting quantitative and anecdotal data on how communities run every village department. Researchers from the University of Illinois Chicago Department of Public Administration then compare data across communities, and compile a report on their findings. 

UIC's first report will focus exclusively on police attraction, retention and how officers respond to mental health calls. The first report should be completed by July 2018. 

"I think there's a lot of similarities in the issues that people have seen with police officer retention, dealing with communities and public trust, and dealing with what the most holistic term would be for mental health calls," said Jon Pape, River Forest management analyst, who is in charge of collecting and clearing data for the report. 

Pape said mental health calls could include everything from Alzheimer's to suicide threats and depression. By the end of the month, the collective hopes to nail down concrete performance indicators that can be used to measure and compare these topics across all 11 villages. Eventually, the collective plans to analyze data and best-practices for running all village departments.  

Pape said he did not know which village department the cooperative will choose to analyze next, but they will probably start collecting data in July 2018. He said analysis of police matters in River Forest will be ongoing. 

"The goal is to learn from what everybody else is doing, learn what's gone well, what's gone poorly, where people have different perspectives, and collaborate and communicate with each other to do these things better," Pape said.  

CONTACT: ntepper@wjinc.com

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