Gun-lovers insulted Oak Park's police and health board

Opinion: Columns

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Frank Vozak

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Thinking back several weeks to the latest village discussion on handguns in Oak Park, what comes to mind is not my opinion about guns but rather the rude treatment that two important village institutions received by open-use handgun advocates.

The first institution unfairly maligned was the Oak Park Police Department. A letter writer implied that citizens needed guns because the police force is only charged with public order, not with citizen safety. This is a horrible insult to our police department. Just check out the Oak Park police website and you will see the long list of services that our police officers provide to anyone within the boundaries of the village of Oak Park, every day. Each and every officer is dedicated to maintaining the safety and security of everyone in the village and being constantly ready to do whatever it takes to maintain our village.

In my personal and professional life as a social worker, I have seen Chief Rick Tanksley, Deputy Chief Tony Ambrose, Community Policing Sergeant Dave Jacobson, and Community Policing Officer Mark Scott greatly extend themselves to help community residents, disabled citizens, and disgruntled neighbors/drivers to resolve quality of life issues while ensuring safety, fairness, equity, and yes, justice. Our police are an important part of what makes Oak Park a wonderful place to live, visit, and work.

The second unfairly maligned institution was the Oak Park Board of Health. As part of its commitment to work with the Health Department to improve the overall health of our community, this citizens commission began to research what needed to be in place to maintain the health and safety of our village long before the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Oak Park handgun ban. Combining the resources of public health and safety professionals, gun owners, and concerned citizens, the commission carefully researched how other communities had adapted to a change from a handgun ban to handguns being legal, considered the unique conditions in our village and what would be impinged by handguns being legal, and came up with a carefully researched and written report, which included a set of recommendations that would protect both the public health and even the most liberal interpretation of the "right to keep and bear arms" in the Second Amendment.

In appreciation of the expertise the health board has built up in this 4½-year process, the village board asked them to hold a public meeting to take testimony that would give the village board further public input on this issue.

The hearing fairly received testimony and public opinion following the standard used for all testimony given before village bodies, limiting testimony to three minutes. In fact, when there are many people wishing to comment, village bodies may limit testimony on each side of the issue to three individuals for each side. But the Board of Health allowed any person who requested to speak and have their three minutes.

In return for this courtesy, the Board of Health was barraged by insults from various people, both inside the village and out, representing themselves and statewide and national organizations demanding an end to all restrictions on gun ownership and usage inside the village. One state-based pro-gun speaker went so far as to insult the competence, fairness, objectivity, and even the standing of the Board of Health to carry out its responsibility under its enabling ordinances.

Like good citizen volunteers/officials, the board took the insults with maturity and grace. But why should citizens serving their community have to take this?

As I have noted, we are fortunate to have in Oak Park many organizations and institutions who contribute to our quality of life. Shouldn't they be given appreciation and respect?

Frank Vozak is an Oak Park resident.

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Reader Comments

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Posted: May 29th, 2012 4:47 PM

@Q - you have proven you have a hanldle on the PROBLEM. Now, lets see if you can be just as good with offering your suggestions for solutions. Too easy to talk of problems. That is just idle chatter - that anyone can make. Look forward to your suggestions.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: May 29th, 2012 1:57 PM

OPRF CORRECTION You need a Police Department 10 times the size of OPPD, to be able to handle crime, stop every Black, White, Hispanic person that doesn't fit the neighborhood, set up traffic stops, and respond to a faulty burglar alarm to do what RFPD does. OPPD are to busy responding to actual crime taking place because Oak Park next to Chicago. RFPD does not have some super power to keep crime down. RF just doesn't have enough criminals available to them.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: May 29th, 2012 1:56 PM

OPRF, you need a Police Department 10 times the size of OPPD, to be able to handle crime, stop every Black, White, Hispanic person that doesn't fit the neighborhood, set up traffic stops, and respond to a faulty burglar alarm to do what RFPD does. OPPD are to busy responding to actual crime taking place because Oak Park next to Chicago. RFPD does not have some super power to keep crime down. RF just doesn't have enough criminals available to them.


Posted: May 29th, 2012 6:50 AM

@Q - you may be right in some areas, but Police need to do ALL the little things RFPD does - in order to be in position to make a difference. That is the point OPRF Dad was attempting to make. You need to do ALL the RIGHT little things - to make a difference.

Q from Oak Park  

Posted: May 28th, 2012 12:04 PM

OPRFDad, River Forest doesn't have crime so there is plenty of time to stop Blacks for walking through the town and traffic stops. Sometimes a bit of shop lifting. That doesn't mean RFPD, is not efficient at what they do, it means the don't have much of an opportunity to put a bullet into someone with justification. OPPD, and Brian S., was Police Officer who was very good at his Profession knows what OPPD deal with. There is no comparison.

Charleton Down From The Mountain  

Posted: May 28th, 2012 10:51 AM

Frank is right, we must be respectful and appreciative of our betters who would use our tax dollars to deprive us of our rights.


Posted: May 25th, 2012 12:28 AM

As usual, Brian S's reading comprehension skills fail him.

joe from south oak park  

Posted: May 25th, 2012 12:21 AM

I think it's funny that Frank has so much to say without attending any of the meetings save possibly the one in January.


Posted: May 24th, 2012 10:36 AM

Guns are unhealthy an unsafe.

To OPRFDingbat  

Posted: May 24th, 2012 9:02 AM

You already noted the difference between OP police and RF police. Both are the police, but one dept is in OP. Thats your real problem. If an OP officer doesnt take crap from one of our whiny neighbors, is accused of racism by one our activists, or puts a bullet through anybody inside our borders...there will be a call for public meetings and overall outrage. Officers across the state get the same training problem is what town you work for.Oak Parkers are the problem not the people we employ.


Posted: May 24th, 2012 1:44 AM

OPPD do a great job considering our proximity to the west side. And it's interesting to consider the fact the we've had a steady decrease in crime over a 39 year period with the hand gun ban in place, so the police are obviously doing something right. As oppose to moaning. How about showing some appreciation for the people that keep you and your family safe. There's going to e a certain level of crime until the west side changes, but I'd find it had to imagine another PD doing better considering

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: May 23rd, 2012 8:03 PM

Sorry OPRFDad, I beg to differ. The rank and file of my beloved Oak Park Police Dept. do a remarkable job, in spite of the leaderless, ineffective,incompetent,upper management that couldnt lead a parade or catch a cold. Try fighting the criminals from the front and the lack luster from behind.


Posted: May 23rd, 2012 5:11 PM

Let's face it, the OP police would prefer to harass cabbies parked the wrong way on a two way street rather than keep people safe - I'd trade OP's police force for the River Forest police any day. River Forest police (1) catch criminals, (2) don't take any crap, (3) aren't afraid of being accused of racism, and (4) will put a bullet in a criminal if it is deserved. As to the Health Department - keep your nose out of the gun business and focus on something of real import

Brian Slowiak from Oak Park  

Posted: May 23rd, 2012 4:56 PM

Not once in his written letter does Frank Vozak give a specific instance of when or who insulted the Oak Park Police Department or the Oak Park Board of Health.

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