It's time to defund the Oak Park police

Oak Park trustee makes case for reimagining community safety

Opinion: Columns

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Arti Walker-Peddakotla

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 "Hi, I called you. There were three kids that were riding their bikes, hitting people with their bikes and they weren't listening to us when we told them to stop," said the white woman to the Oak Park police officer who arrived on the scene at Euclid Park. 

Observing this incident, which happened almost three years ago, cemented in my mind the warped definition of safety that exists in our community. The white woman had called the police on three young Black children, the smallest who seemed around 6 years old, the oldest maybe younger than 10 years. The white woman had called the police on them because they were riding their bikes over the "hills" inside the playground. Calling the police made her feel safe, while simultaneously traumatizing three young children. I left the playground that day thinking of Tamir Rice, a young Black boy who was killed by Cleveland police at 12 years old for playing with a toy gun on a playground.

In Oak Park, some trustees and village staff tell residents to call the police for everything — for any issue or perceived danger they might have. The police are our help desk in our community. They respond to any and every issue, fully armed — even to resolve playground disputes. White Oak Parkers deploy the police to surveil, question and intimidate Black and Brown people in our community. 

Since 2014, even as the number of non-police village staff has decreased, the number of Oak Park Police Department staff has increased. The 2014 budget funded 115 sworn police officers, and 34 civilian police department staff. The 2019 budget allocated funding for 121 sworn police officers and 31 civilian police department staff. The number of police officers has increased even as crime rates have remained relatively stable in our community. 

Approximately 40 percent of the Village of Oak Park's General Fund dollars are used to pay for policing. Policing is the village's single, largest expense. And with our 2020 Capital Improvement Plan allocating an additional $40 million for a new police building, Oak Park continues to throw more money at its carceral infrastructure with no equivalent investment in community services that would actually improve the lives of all residents in our community. 

Earlier this year, I requested that the Citizen Police Oversight Commission (CPOC) review all police department general orders -- such as the Use of Force order -- and the rest of the board members disagreed. I have called out the egregious appointment made to CPOC, which is currently an overwhelmingly white male and police-friendly commission counting multiple ex-law enforcement personnel as commissioners. Since my time in office, our village government has failed at every opportunity to reign in police spending or increase oversight over our police.

This is why I helped create Freedom to Thrive Oak Park, an organization that has worked tirelessly over the past year to research the currently warped definition of community safety in Oak Park. That it has taken a nationwide uprising sparked by the murder of yet another Black person to awaken the conscience of Oak Park trustees so they take a stand on issues of policing in our community is irredeemable.  

The village president and some trustees have now shown performative solidarity with the movement for Black lives, by taking a knee with Oak Park police, and signing on to the Obama Foundation's Pledge to review the use of force policy and engage the community on this issue. These actions, at this moment, are not enough. Signing on to the Obama Pledge will not solve Oak Park's policing problems. I believe this moment calls not just for reforming our policing, but, as Freedom to Thrive Oak Park calls for in our report — defunding our police and a full reimagining of our definition of community safety.  

Oak Park's current definition of community safety creates walls between Oak Park and its surrounding "unsafe" communities. We stop anyone who doesn't appear to "belong" here. Data show that over 40 percent of the traffic stops made by Oak Park police involve people of color, mainly Black and Latinx people. We must acknowledge that every police interaction has impact and causes trauma -- and we have heard this countless times in public comment before the village board. 

Community safety does not come from hiring more police and using the police as our community's security guards to stop and question anyone that doesn't seem like they "belong" here. Community safety comes when we reimagine what it means to have a safe and healthy community and we ensure that everyone, not just a select few, have what they need to thrive. 

Trained and experienced mediation professionals could respond when disputes need to be settled, instead of armed police officers who can escalate situations. Individuals experiencing mental health or sensory challenges could interact with mental health professionals able to connect them with services, instead of officers who criminalize them. Community safety comes from defunding the police budget and reinvesting that money into affordable housing and rent and utility subsidies so that we cannot only find permanent housing for those experiencing homelessness, but also respond to the housing and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

COVID-19 has shown us that we must redefine community safety and fund the basic necessities people need to thrive. Even within Oak Park, Black residents who represent roughly 19 percent of the population, make up 44 percent of Oak Park's COVID-19 infections. The racial disparities seen with COVID-19 are a glaring reminder that the definition of community safety is centered on white comfort and safety. Never has the argument been stronger for the need to divest from punitive and carceral infrastructure and invest in the social and economic needs of our community than in this moment. I urge the village leadership to listen to the young voices rising up in this moment, and gather the political courage to defund the police and reinvest our resources so that each and every life in our community has the opportunity to thrive.

Arti Walker-Peddakotla is an Oak Park village trustee and organizer with Freedom to Thrive Oak Park.

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Reader Comments

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Liz Gaylord from Oak Park  

Posted: July 9th, 2020 9:37 PM

Sandy Richter, Carey McLean, Jason Cohen, Carol Ann, Ken Van Spankerswanson, Rebecca Donovan Williams, Joey Sezda & Michelle Roser Major, thanks for getting it. Keep fighting the good fight

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: June 29th, 2020 3:22 PM

Sure, Brian. Stay well in Westchester.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: June 29th, 2020 3:01 PM

@ William Dwyer: Because a good event, no matter when the event was practiced is still a good event. Birthdays, Christmas, donating blood, helping someone is a good event, worth remembering, studying and practicing and continuing.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: June 28th, 2020 10:47 PM

@ William Dwyer: Look out, look out William, Tommy McCoy is standing outside your door. "completes the stop" is but not limited to pilling a subject off a cta bus, having him stand for a show up, proving yourself wrong and getting the subject back on a cta bus fare already paid. "completes the stop" is arresting a guy for no drivers license, finding he cant past the eye exam and getting him to go to the Lions Club for free glasses, thus obtaining his license. "completes the stop" is calling the father of a kid who drives a Cadillac matching the description of a RF drive off gas theft. Father took son to RF for a show up, RF gave kid report showing he didn't run off w/ the gas. Completing the stop is taking time to listen to a twin sister explain her twin forged her name to buy a car under her name, we got the original registration form matched the signature to her check and Chicago lifted her suspension and placed it on her sister. Deckert went from seeing two of his charges dead, to teaching the correct attitude to approach citizens. Listening and understanding with positive action never go out of style. Konekhe spelled his name that way to me. Before and after the beers.

Ramona Lopez  

Posted: June 28th, 2020 8:53 PM

@ Jeffrey. I notice you never mentioned anything about the specific article. I find it absolutely hilarious that you post a link to Slate as a counterargument. Here is what Pew Research thinks of your people: Confidence level = low. "We found that Slate never includes a Right-leaning perspective on its website, making it unbalanced. Opinion pieces on Slate are often labeled news, making it unclear to readers what is fact and what is opinion. In its news reporting, Slate often uses subjective and emotional words." Before 2016 they supported the electoral collage, after 2016 they referred to it as "a tool of white supremacy". Still waiting on your comments on anything specific from the article Jeffrey. It's actually the 1st thing I've ever read from them, found it in a google search. You probably dislike the Illinois Policy Institute as well even though their factual reporting is ranked high. You seem to dislike facts Jeffrey. "The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it. " George Orwell

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: June 28th, 2020 4:08 PM

Not quite, Greg. I'm asking what the hell event 30 and 50 years ago have to do with the time of day now. If that's mud to you, OK, bud.

Gregg Kuenster from RF  

Posted: June 28th, 2020 2:58 PM

W. Dwyer is throwing mud and picking B. Slowiak's minor errors to cast a shadow on Mr. Slowiak, IMO Slowiak gave a reasonable generally accepted argument that policing is an art. Policemen are people. The public is human. There is a power dynamic between the Public and Police. The fact that both sides are human and there is a structural dynamic leads to policing being an art.. Just like writing, teaching, designing, plumbing etc. How can this be argued? IMO the dynamics of policing and politics has not changed much in 2000 years. The story of Christ has police putting him to death. That does not mean all police for the last 200 years are bad. It does not mean even that those who put Christ to death are bad. They did an evil thing. Forgive them. Forgive yourself.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: June 28th, 2020 12:49 PM

I guess you miss Tommy McCoy, Brian. First off, it's Konhke, not Konehke, and he left Oak Park 30 years ago. The Northlake cop murders occurred more than half a century ago in 1967. What exactly does any of that possibly have to do with policing in the 2020? . .As for "Its is not what you do as a police officer, but how the police officer completes the stop," help me out here: If a police officer "completes a stop," he has done something. Or do they teach a separate type of logic in the police academy?

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: June 28th, 2020 12:18 PM

@ Neal Buer: "stop pulling people over for busted tail lightsand looking suspicious"We had a police chief, Konekhe, who ordered every uniform officer to conduct 5 traffic stops a shift. Out rage was the cry, 5 tickets a shift. Quota. The Chief said 5 stops not tickets a shift. The Chief wanted every the public and criminals to see the officers out on traffic stops, red lights blazing. Off. Orrin Deckert (Ex Northlake P.D. supervisor who was on duty when two of his guys were killed in a bank robbery) told me you issue a citation, you have a citation you issue a pass and you never know what the citizen might tell you in the future. Plus the police officer practices stressful contacts with the citizens on traffic stops. There is an Oak Park officer who was working CTA detail along the I-290 rail line. 20 minutes to go before quitting time and here is this guy walking down the middle of Garfield Street, from Lombard east ward. A nice stop, pedestrian in the roadway to finish off the detail. The guy when stopped had never been to school ,never had a job, never been in the service,and had strange ID. In he went for pedestrian in the roadway. and fingerprint check showed him wanted for murder out of Tennessee. A River Forest officer stopped a guy in regards to a retail theft, the answers and ID were weak, brought in fingerprinted and the guy was wanted out of Philly for murder. Doesn't happen often. Its is not what you do as a police officer, but how the police officer completes the stop. If the police art is applied correctly the art is good for all. There is little police science, science being the same issues guaranteeing the same response. There is a police art, which should be practiced. Art, like beauty, is in the mind of the beholder.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: June 27th, 2020 11:44 AM

One Quillette writer referred to Barack Obama as "the most divisive and controversial President in post Cold war history." So, take their bias with a grain of salt. The writer also wrongly called Obama "a child of the '60s." He's not- he was born Aug. 1961, so he grew up and came of age in the 70s.

Jeffrey Smith  

Posted: June 27th, 2020 10:40 AM

And one more clarification of what Quillette is all about: "Free Thought for the Closed-Minded Quillette pretends to be a platform for debate. It's actually a soapbox for self-pity."

Jeffrey Smith  

Posted: June 27th, 2020 10:35 AM

*****Quillette***** is a right-wing "academic"[note 1] online magazine that tries to present itself as centrist and libertarian when in reality it serves to legitimize many views shared by the alt-right. For example, it regularly publishes articles from a strong conservative viewpoint that are anti-feminist, anti-immigration, Islamophobic and anti-transgender, with some articles more controversially supporting racialism and HBD ("human-biodiversity") pseudoscience, *****popular among white nationalists.***** It has published an article defending Noah Carl, a pseudoscientist who writes Islamophobic papers in the OpenPsych pseudojournals.[2]

Neal Buer from Oak Park  

Posted: June 27th, 2020 9:55 AM

In 2019, 9 unarmed black people were killed by police. Most were charging, trying to get the police officer's gun. In 2019, 7 black police officers were killed. If you take away the police's ability to restrain a suspect, you bring deadly force in the equation quicker. The police in Atlanta did not use choke holds, and the end result was the use of deadly force. I think the police have to stop pulling people over for busted tail lights and looking "suspicious".

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: June 27th, 2020 7:44 AM

The fact that police kill white people, justifiably or not, does not change the documented, recorded, observed and witnessed fact that too many Black people are brutalized and killed by police under color of law. I do not believe in "defunding" police, but I damn sure expect the bad cops to be held accountable for their behavior and removed from policing.

Ramona Lopez  

Posted: June 26th, 2020 10:50 PM

Here is a good article if anyone cares to read something not fed to you from mainstream media:

Mary Pikul  

Posted: June 26th, 2020 8:38 AM

You are absolutely right, Kitty. I don't support defunding the police; however, my advise to Trustee Arti would be: You would make a better case for your cause - and causes - if you would stop your overuse of and dependence on twisted interpretations and manipulative language every time you take a stand. It loses your credibility. We can see through it.

Mikhail Ivanov  

Posted: June 24th, 2020 3:01 PM

@Jason Cohen: Oh, I know what you THINK will happen and what clueless elected officials with an agenda BELIEVE will be the result. Rainbows and unicorns. But the reality is that we will be on our own to protect our families. Already applied for my concealed carry....I suggest others do as well.

Nick Polido  

Posted: June 24th, 2020 2:04 PM

Speaking of Knee jerk reactions, the CPS Union just concluded their protest downtown to demand the board remove police from the schools.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: June 24th, 2020 11:18 AM

I never said I didn't think change was needed, Jason. It definitely is. But I expect considered and deliberate change, not knee jerk reactions based on some people's emotions.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: June 24th, 2020 11:04 AM

@Mikhail, nobody is saying that police won't handle actual crime. It's clear some just want to read into all this what they want without focusing on facts. Nobody is saying we remove the police. The point is the police should focus more on actual real crimes with the community assisting on issues that shouldn't require a police officer. Should we have to waste their time on a call for kids under 10 riding their bikes near people? That's a giant waste and doesn't actually help.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: June 24th, 2020 10:59 AM

@William, good point there are more commenters here but my point still stands. This is hardly a representation of OP. A whopping 48 people commenting hardly represents the village. The fact that there are thousands of OP residents at the marches speaks volumes. You all can believe that you represent OP though. I know it makes many here feel better. Change is coming.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: June 24th, 2020 10:57 AM

The Oak Park department already has personnel to do police related but non-enforcement work- they're called Community Service Officers (CSO). Much lower salaries and pension expenses and training expenses. You don't necessarily need a sworn officer to block off streets or direct traffic or numerous other tasks. River Forest has used, may still be employing- a retired cop as their CSO.

Ken Van Spankerswanson  

Posted: June 24th, 2020 10:42 AM

well, let's put on our thinking hat for a moment. if you have 10 police with 50% of their day doing non-police duties then you have 5 police actively engaged in policing. So, if you take away the non-police duties and put 5 police on 100% police duty you have fewer police actively doing the job they were trained and paid to do. make sense now?

Michelle Williams  

Posted: June 24th, 2020 10:27 AM

@ Mr Spankerswanson: but if there are less police due to defunding, how do we have more of them available to do police work?

Ken Van Spankerswanson  

Posted: June 24th, 2020 9:40 AM

To be clear, police availability will be greater for fighting crime and traffic scofflaws if some of the more pedestrian items that occur are taken off of their hands. Police need to do more police work and less social work. I can't be bothered to look up who wrote the scenario about a social worker being killed in a family quarrel, you watch too much tv whoever you are, if a family quarrel escalates then the social worker can call 911 and have the police show up. What we really need is more reallocation of budgets and less hyperbole. We also need a sensible village board and to stop calling the village president "mayor".

Mikhail Ivanov  

Posted: June 24th, 2020 8:19 AM

If someone is breaking into my home, I'm not going to call a social worker or an arts & crafts program. Arti has convinced me to get a bigger gun and defend myself and my family as needed. Clearly the police won't be able to help.

Steve Kelley  

Posted: June 24th, 2020 7:40 AM

Thanks for posting this article and for those constructive and respectful comments. After careful reflection I think the author has not made her point. I vote no

Jeff Schroeder from Oak Park  

Posted: June 23rd, 2020 5:51 PM

Last night, while walking near South Blvd and East Ave, my wife and I were nearly run over by a car that blew through the stop sign. The driver slowed down just enough to see if there were other cars, then sped up through intersection (like the bikes on Damen Ave). You can reduce the police force, but realize that it will be more perilous to live here.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: June 23rd, 2020 2:04 PM

The sane people aren't reading this, Alice. Just us wild-eyed crazy types.

Alice Wellington  

Posted: June 23rd, 2020 11:56 AM

To the sane people out there: Have you had enough of this yet?

Ramona Lopez  

Posted: June 23rd, 2020 12:49 AM

For all you avid followers of Arti and her Marxist ways here are a couple quotes from Karl Marx, the author of your manifesto: ""Indian society has no history at all, at least no known history. What we shall call its history is but the history of the successive invaders who founded their empires on the passive basis of that unresisting and unchanging society." Karl Marx, New York Daily Tribune, August 8, 1853" ; "Tremaux "proved that the common Negro type is the degenerate form of a much higher one ? a very significant advance over Darwin." Karl Marx, letter to Friedrich Engels, August 7, 1866". Make no mistake Arti and her supporters are committed to Marxist ideals and principles.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: June 22nd, 2020 6:09 PM

Setting aside your pathetic assertion that people's race and age are or aren't representative of the general opinion, Jason, I gotta say, you're claim that "there are like 10 people that post on here" would stand up a whole lot better if not for the fact that 48 different people have posted on this topic alone so far.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: June 22nd, 2020 5:24 PM

@Tom, is it more pathetic than those that ignore the people that agree with her on this very board that you conveniently decided to ignore? The accounts you mentioned are an anomaly. The problem with this site is that most of the people are old white people that seem to have lots of free time to bitch about anything and everything here. If you think this somehow represents OP you are sadly mistaken and that's clear based on the the thousands of people in OP marching every weekend. Let's be honest there are like 10 people that post on here and none of us represent anything as we are way too small a sample size.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: June 22nd, 2020 11:37 AM

It has to be hard for Trustee Walker to share her ideas and see so many citizens not like them, realizing how totally out of touch she is. People don't like her constant reliance on made up stories and her poor use of statistics. And then the only ones defending her, by flooding the comments, are made up people on Facebook, who don't live in town, don't pay taxes here and have those odd but easy to create fake verified Facebook sites that exist only to cut and paste far leftist dogma. It would be pathetic if it wasn't so dangerous to have her sitting as an actual Trustee. And to think we have her instead of a real African America Trustee that she defeated by only a handful of votes, what a shame.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: June 22nd, 2020 9:12 AM

Isn't it odd that Tommy "Channel 3" Maxwell- umm, I mean, McCoy, hasn't just dropped off this comment board, but his/her Facebook page is now down. And isn't it odd that Joey "Vegan" Sezda now suddenly shows up? What is it about these people that makes them so timid about others knowing who they really are? Are they that afraid to put a face to their opinions? And, why is that?

Nick Polido  

Posted: June 22nd, 2020 7:10 AM

100 shot ,10 dead , 10 juveniles including a three year old, multiple shots at Riverside Mall with one shot...

Ramona Lopez  

Posted: June 21st, 2020 8:23 PM

@ Mr. Sezda, Your facebook profile is quite the enigma. You have a quote from George Orwell who detested communism and a picture of Che Guevara who was a brutal communist, grew up with a silver spoon in his mouth in Argentina and executed thousands he determined to be enemies of the state once Castro took over. I've always been baffled by those who praise him as some martyr or revolutionary. Been to Cuba lately?

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: June 21st, 2020 4:41 PM

Why in the world is it stupid to argue over the definition of a key word before you decide how to approach a problem? Seriously. Words and concepts matter, except, apparently for people who spend their time drawing placards. Unfortunately, governance is a lot more complicated than buzz words.

Neal Buer from Oak Park  

Posted: June 21st, 2020 3:38 PM

Jason, I ask your forgiveness. I foolishly used the dictionary to find the definition of defund. Here it is - defund[ dee-fuhnd ]SHOW IPA verb (used with object) to withdraw financial support from, especially as an instrument of legislative control: Many university programs were defunded by the recent government cutbacks. to deplete the financial resources of: The cost of the lawsuit defunded the company's operating budget.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: June 21st, 2020 1:33 PM

It's so stupid that anyone wants to argue about the word "defund" and why it's somehow the movements fault you can't manage to read about it for 5 minutes. I am sorry that you aren't smart enough to work this out. It's really not that hard but continue to show your ignorance. We don't need you to make the movement happen. Excuse us as we leave you behind.

Joey Sezda  

Posted: June 21st, 2020 1:14 PM

And just to be clear, my condescending comments are for those who were already making condescending and reactionary comments first towards the trustee, voters, and others. And with no surprise, the people who talk like that cry me a river when it's done back to them. As a rule, when dealing with people like that I respond in kind.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: June 21st, 2020 12:51 PM

Well, Joey... I'm amazed at the inability of people who, while they make some good points about the legitimate need for change, just can't manage to express themselves clearly. I'm well aware of what the prefix "de" means. You need to look up the definitions of connotation and denotation, try to understand the difference between the two, get off your own high horse and advocate with terms that are clear to others. It's really pretty easy to do, if you actually care about people understanding what you're saying, rather than just being smug about your supposed correctness, like Ms Walker-Peddakotla so clearly is.

Joey Sezda  

Posted: June 21st, 2020 12:50 PM

Also, to the math geniuses who are casting doubt on the 40% figure referenced by Arti... Please, 1. read the sentences in the article. It clearly says the general fund... and when one says to "pay for policing" that means EXPENDITURES. 2. Please, I know it's hard, but please, pretty please with sugar on top, go do RESEARCH instead of running your mouth mindlessly. The budget is posted and if we look at 2020... *****Total expenditures: $63,682,966 Police expenses: $25,853,621. You divide the total by the police expenses and you get.... 40.59738831887949%?... So per BASIC math rules, you can round up to 41%. She did not. If you don't think this percent warrants questions, you are extremely biased towards a police state. When you spend nearly half your budget towards policing it says what kind of society you live in.

Joey Sezda  

Posted: June 21st, 2020 12:40 PM

I made a typo below on NYPD's budget... its $6 BILLION... equal to Ukraine's MILITARY budget. Chicago and LA budgets: $1.7 BILLION... equal to Iraq's military budget. So, OF COURSE, no, don't look at our policing budget here.

Joey Sezda  

Posted: June 21st, 2020 12:18 PM

Seems like William in the comments below, is intentionally trying to cherry pick a definition and misinform others to simply validate his views. Defunding occurs all the time. De-fund. Might I then suggest you look up the definition of the prefix "de"? There are various funding sources for any number of programs. You defund one stream of funding, guess what??? There ARE STILL OTHER STREAMS. Wow. Do I have to explain how bills appropriate funding? You sound like a Fox News viewer. Maybe MSNBC since it has turned into Fox for liberals. If black, brown, etc lives really matter to you, at the minimum, it requires that look at your precious police budget. Sorry, no sacred cows here.

Jeffrey Smith  

Posted: June 21st, 2020 12:15 PM

Welcome, Mr. Sezda - You have just dazzled the cave dwellers with a bright light. Let's see if they can stagger out long enough to respond. ; )

Joey Sezda  

Posted: June 21st, 2020 12:08 PM

I am really disturbed by the inability to simply understand English words here. Quite a number of you are reacting with ideas about the word "defund' that you have been fed by mass media and/or your emotions. Let's go over the lesson here kids: According to Merriam-Webster: de-fund: to withdraw funding from Now for some of you, you are adding the word "completely" in there. That's your owned warped interpretation. Where does this Trustee say COMPLETELY???? Yeesh! Programs are defunded and refunded ALL THE TIME. What do you think happens? Programs in our gov't are only completely defunded and funded??? Wow, for Oak Park residents (who have a very high opinion of themselves) y'all don't really think critically. Liberals and conservatives that I see littering the comments with reactionary comments. You people who live in your ivory towers (typically white), you don't think cities like NYC should have a $1 BILLION police budget? LA? Bigger than some nations MILITARY budget! And OF COURSE, OP is in a special bubble itself, completely removed from the rest of the world and could not warrant even a wee bit look at their budget and see SOME defunding opportunities... and move those funds to other neglected social programs. Seriously, get out of your myopic bubbles completely built out of only your own personal experience and wake up to what, god forbid, others experience. This doesn't mean our cops are bad. It just means let's look at the budget and reprioritize them to work where they would be most effective. It's like you all watch Faux News. And take a reading comp class while you're at it.

Michelle Roser Major  

Posted: June 21st, 2020 11:10 AM

DeRay Mckesson, a leader in the defund movement, explains it well. See below from an interview with Fox News. "I think there are two big buckets. One is, how do you reduce the power of the police immediately? And, how do we shrink the role of the police?" Mckesson said. "The 'defund' language is hard for some people but it really is this idea of move the money to follow the responsibilities." He then argued that police officers have been given too many responsibilities that, in many cases, would be better served by experts. "Who should be dealing with the mental health crisis? Probably an expert, probably not a police officer. Who should respond to somebody with suicidal ideation? Probably a mental health expert. Probably not an officer. Who should respond to homelessness? Probably a social worker," Mckesson said. "We don't need to dump money into the police. Public safety is a function of all the other things."

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: June 21st, 2020 10:39 AM

de·fund . transitive verb; prevent from continuing to receive funds. . From the Cambridge Dictionary - to stop providing the money to pay for something. . .. From the Collins Dictionary - to stop providing funds, esp. government funds, for a program, group, etc.

Michelle Williams  

Posted: June 21st, 2020 10:16 AM

From Webster: defund = to withdraw funding from Seems pretty clear to me what the Trustee is saying.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: June 21st, 2020 10:03 AM

The definition of "defund" is to CUT OFF. So it's disingenuous to complain that people don't understand what you mean by a word when you yourself are using the word incorrectly. When the right wing tried to "defund" Planned Parenthood and "defund" Head Start, they at least had the honesty to not whine about people misunderstanding their meaning. Here's an idea- try using "re-allocate," or "reform."

Rebeccah Donovan Willard  

Posted: June 21st, 2020 9:31 AM

No one is suggesting that we do away with the police, obviously there is and will always be a need for police in our community. What those of us who are willing to enter into this discussion with open minds and hearts are asking for is a reimagining of community safety in Oak Park. While I don't doubt that many of you have had the very respectful and professional interactions with police that you speak about, I encourage you to open your minds to the possibility that this has not been the experience of every Oak Parker, specifically the people of color in our village. In the name of increased safety the OPPD has encouraged a "call for anything" mindset that I believe divides our community and has a huge potential to profile and harm black people. I would like to see us work together to change the culture of Oak Park to be one where we fund and utilize other more appropriate resources and "first responders" for different community needs and save the police for the actual crimes and violent situations. It doesn't have to be either/or (all police or no police), it can be collaborative and innovative. I, and many others, would love to be able to look back at this point in time and be able to say that Oak Park answered the call for change and became a leader among communities. We have lead in other opportunities for change, let's not shy away from this opportunity.

Doug Katz from Oak Park  

Posted: June 21st, 2020 8:40 AM

@Michelle CONTINUED The simple truth is that Arti despises all but the people who she has deemed worthy of her benevolent representation. The tone of her Twitter and other social media paints them as the enemy. It seems her philosophy is almost one of reparations and not equality. The crazy part about this is that if you took a poll of Oak Park residents as to why they moved here, it tolerance, diversity and free-thinking would all be high on the list. She is through a divisive approach making all but the most progressive feel alienated and hated. Yes, I said hated because that is the flavor of her rhetoric. It is not one of let's solve this together but rather one of you had your chance. She is an elected representative of all Oak Parkers and to exclude a group is simply discriminatory. Before you shower me with shock at that statement, I am in no way equating her discrimination with that felt by minorities in this country. I am just saying to discount an entire group due to any characteristic is discriminatory and saddening to be as more and more people feel unwelcome in the shadow of Arti-topia.

Doug Katz from Oak Park  

Posted: June 21st, 2020 8:39 AM

@Michelle Your comment is a bit of progressive gaslighting. While Arti's opinion piece did touch on some of things you mention, it is rooted on a direct attack on white Oak Park residents and the Oak Park Police Department. Throughout the piece she capitalizes Black and Latinx and ensures that white is placed lowercase, which only goes to further highlight the lack of balance in this piece and her thinking. I would be interested to know what data was used to determine that who, specifically what racial group, was calling the police? I would like to see the poll data that she used to confirm that all people of color align with her because she apparently speaks for the entirety of that population in Oak Park. I would be interested to why she feels the burden of reforming the communities adjacent to Oak Park, which are undoubtedly a source of crime in Oak Park, falls upon Oak Parkers and not the residents of those municipalities. The last time that I checked the protect in the protect and serve means exactly that and a mediator is not going to of much use during the bad situations. I do not know what "disputes" that she is referring to, but, as a trained mediator, I see few potentially violent situations where sending in a mediator is going to be productive. The truth is that it would be dangerous and negligent to place an employee in situations where they can be harmed without a means of defending themselves, which returns us to a use of force situation. If the threat of crime is generally from the communities surrounding Oak Park, I do not see how her plan to divert funds to her social agenda will decrease that threat. Finally, as to the use of force amongst our police, the burden is for her to show any time that there have been violations of what would generally be considered appropriate use of force. I am admittedly ignorant as to whether there have been any, so if this is a rampant problem, I would challenge anyone from Planet Peddakotla to enligh

Jason Cohen  

Posted: June 21st, 2020 7:24 AM

@Kitty, she literally says the general fund in her post. How is that misleading anyone? She doesn't say the entire budget of the village. It's clear you just don't like the message and are looking to pick at something to show some level of dishonesty. There's nothing in her statement that's misleading so how about we deal with the actual issue at hand instead of trying to attack a number that's accurate.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: June 21st, 2020 7:17 AM

@Neal/Bruce, you should attempt to read and educate yourselves. Your jokes about the word defund show your ignorance. Try to learn something it might do you some good. All it would take is about 5 minutes to read a bit on what defund the police actually means and it's not to do away with policing entirely. I understands you likely don't want to educate yourselves because you just don't like the idea of change and that's fine. The good news is many many others in this country do get it and are at least open to the discussion.

Michelle Roser Major from Oak Park  

Posted: June 20th, 2020 11:42 PM

The outrage by white Oak Parkers to Trustee Walker-Peddakotla's point of view, informed by her own experience and the experience of people of color in this village reveals the extreme blind spots many of us still have, even while we are in a moment of reckoning as a country. She is braver than so many of us, and is standing up for the constituents who need her most, despite the abuse thrown at her. Reform has been proven not to work. We need a Fundamental change in policing. Learn what defunding is. A majority of Americans who understand what the idea behind the Defund movement is support it. "...when Reuters/Ipsos queried people about "proposals to move some money currently going to police budgets into better officer training, local programs for homelessness, mental health assistance, and domestic violence," a whopping 76 percent of people who were familiar with those proposals supported them, with only 22 percent opposed. Democrats and independents supported these proposals in huge numbers while Republicans were split, 51 percent in favor to 47 percent opposed." Listen and believe the experiences of our fellow citizens. This is the time to make a fundamental shift, and not nibble around the edges. Thank you, Arti, for your leadership.

Kitty Conklin from Cinci  

Posted: June 20th, 2020 9:20 PM

The 40% stat is accurate IF one looks only at the General Fund. However, the VOP uses 4 other funds for capturing the rest of it's activity. The total VOP budget for this year is $162 mil, not $40 mil. Using a numbrr of funds is a very standard approach in accounting so any analysis should look at the total picture. One who picks and chooses the funds one will measure is manipulating their audience - dishonestly. And this author continues to manipulate partial facts to misrepresent the truth.

Neal Buer from Oak Park  

Posted: June 20th, 2020 9:01 PM

Margaret, the protestors were protesting against the murder of George Floyd, which everyone knows was wrong. Only in America do we protest something that everyone is in agreement with. Bruce, you are correct. Sometimes I feel old and stupid, because I think words have meaning. I like a logical world where things are literary and make sense.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: June 20th, 2020 8:49 PM

Neal perhaps when Jason says "defund the police" doesn't mean "defund the police" he is just following the teachings of the 'Alice in Wonderland School of What Words Mean:' ' "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean ?" neither more nor less." "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things...." '

Margaret Miedlar from Oak Park  

Posted: June 20th, 2020 7:38 PM

I don't think anyone (who is calling to defund the police aka cut their budget and allocate the money to other community endeavors) is saying they approve of crime, petty or violent. George Floyd's 8 minute and 46 seconds. Looking at this video I feel sad that there are people out there that feel this behavior (which caused death to another human being) is justified against a man who tried to use a fake $20 bill. What if you received a phone call that your husband/wife/daughter/son was dead because they committed a petty offense and were put on the ground, face down with a police officers knee on their neck for 8 minutes an 46 seconds. Would you feel safe(r) world. Just asking.

Neal Buer from Oak Park  

Posted: June 20th, 2020 6:40 PM

Jason, I love your comment that defund the police doesn't mean abolish the police, it just means they won't be paid. Can't really see how this is going to work out longterm.

Doug Katz from Oak Park  

Posted: June 20th, 2020 5:03 PM

From Arti's Twitter: "Open the link and read the angry comments. This is why these fights to #DefundPolice in small communities matter. Grateful to my @LocalProgress peeps for always having my back. Purple heart?? Quote Tweet" Apparently as your constituents, we don't matter and the fight for your vision of Utopia takes precedence over representation. In my humble opinion, this gets to the heart of the bully progressive attitude that is so prevalent in your governing style and politics. While you likely feel that you have a mandate to bring your social justice warrior agenda and politics to every single component of Oak Park, I think that, at least in this occurrence, the preponderance of comments that differ from yours sends a strong message. I have seen articles and letters in the past which spark debate from both sides. Aside from Mr. Rat, who based on his FB does not even reside in OP, I see significant disagreement. Disagreement from your constituents. Disagreement from the people that you supposedly represents. Last time I checked, as your constituents, you should be listening to us and not lecturing us. You should be solving real problems and not trying to mold yourself into the social justice Joan-of-Arc riding in on a white horse to save us from ourselves. I get it. This is a very charged issue, but, when the dust settles, there will be repercussions. No offense, but I hope that the main repercussion is that you find yourself with much more free time after the election. Sadly, as more people feel bullied, put upon, ignored, taken for granted, et al, they will move. I can tell you that the term exit strategy has entered into more and more of my conversations than ever before. No doubt that this purge of those that you label as angry white people will achieve your goal, but sadly with it will go the money from which the overall budget is funded. Who knows, maybe you'll drive us out and totally defund OP.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: June 20th, 2020 4:16 PM

Jason, the problem with YOUR logic is that that saying you haven't seen youth of any other race other than Black committing certain crimes does not mean you are saying all Black youth are criminals. It's simply saying you haven't seen youth of any other race committing those crimes.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: June 20th, 2020 2:48 PM

@Khalid, the problem with your logic is that you are effectively saying it's fine to stereotype all black people as criminals. Think about what that says to the vast majority of black people that have done nothing wrong. People are literally being questioned for crimes for literally just being black. That guy is tall and black and a crime was committed by a tall black man so let's talk to him. Imagine if the same happened to white people. Nobody would stand for it. Nobody is saying we shouldn't deal with crime. What is being looked at is how we deal with an entire group of people simply because they have a similar color to someone that did commit a crime.

Jason Cohen  

Posted: June 20th, 2020 2:42 PM

It's pretty clear from a number of comments that many of you don't actually know what "defund the police" means. I will give you a hint. It doesn't mean no police. I can't speak to the incident in the article but I can tell you that we do have real issues in this town when the police are called multiple times because we opened our basketball hoop in the alley to anyone that wanted to use it and guess what color the kids were all three times the cops were called. I will say all three times the police actually thanked us for allowing anyone to play and didn't do anything to the kids. Our police are pretty solid but that doesn't mean there isn't real room for improvement. It's not enough to just say all seems pretty good with our police force. Given the level of frustration every town in America should be reviewing how they police. Again, defund doesn't mean abolish.

Khalid Malik  

Posted: June 20th, 2020 11:00 AM

What a silly and unbalanced view. A white man was bitten and robbed by a black youth right in front of my house. A black man broke into a garage of my neighbor and assaulted both him and hid son. Black youth jumped on my colleagues teenage son in broad daylight steeling his wallet. Incidents are numerous. Have been living here on and off for 26 years and have yet to see a youth of any other race committing similar crimes. Sorry disagree with your non sense.

Bert Fischer  

Posted: June 20th, 2020 10:32 AM

This opinion piece really illustrates why the Oak Park police have earned our trust. The biggest opponent of the Oak Park police can only come up with one old story in which really nothing even happened. There is not an American who hasn't been questioned or stopped by the police as a youth. Its much more likely that trauma was brought to these kids by people like Arti telling them that cops will kill them just because they are black. Kids believe that. They don't have the ability to go home and research and see that the chances of an Oak Park cop shooting them or beating them up for no reason is 0. How many people will resist arrest because of bullcrap that has been fed to them by people like Arti? Then the chances of something bad happen really do increase. The cops added three jobs over 5 years???? OMG! Who cares? Just take one drive from Roosevelt to North avenue and tell me we couldn't use more cops patrolling the streets because you know what else is traumatic? - Getting killed by someone who drives through a stop sign. Stop signs have become optional in this town.. And here is another experiment for the scientist Arti to perform, since you have claimed the OP cops are profiling - sit at any intersection for a day and write down every instance of someone violating the law and write down their race. Do you really think traffic violations neatly line up with the demographic distributions?

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: June 20th, 2020 9:52 AM

Looks like "Rat" is a real person. His last post on his Facebook page. on May 31, at 1:55 p.m. reads: "Yooo let's hit North Riverside SHARE THIS" . .. And his FB page makes really interesting reading on how he refers to Black people. I guess he feels entitled.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: June 20th, 2020 9:45 AM

What an articulate, erudite comment, "Rickey Rat." I'm sure it makes total sense in your mind.

Karen Cole from Oak Park  

Posted: June 20th, 2020 8:48 AM

"Hi, I called you. There were three kids that were riding their bikes, hitting people with their bikes and they weren't listening to us when we told them to stop,"...this narrative was not concluded. Were the three kids hitting people with their bikes? How did the Oak Park police traumatize the kids? Did OPPD tell the kids not to ride their bikes into other people? For the past ten years I've lived in downtown Oak Park on Lake Street. Kids on bikes on Lake street can be a problem for pedestrians. I can't even count how many times I've almost been hit by a bike. I've told kids to get off their bikes and to be mindful of other people. I've personally witnessed a OPPD officer tell kids on Lake street to walk their bikes on Lake. He was very polite. Parents should ensure their children know the rules for bike riding! Instead OPPD has to take on that role. Let's not defund the police over one incomplete narrative.

Carol Ann from Oak Park  

Posted: June 20th, 2020 7:06 AM

It is time to DEFEND the police department.

Ramona Lopez  

Posted: June 20th, 2020 12:36 AM

@ Rickey. Maybe some feel "entitled" because they are paying for it. Do you feel "entitled to the groceries you bought this week? See how that works?

Rickey Rat  

Posted: June 20th, 2020 12:27 AM

Lol entitled white people

Jakob Eriksson  

Posted: June 19th, 2020 9:34 PM

Strongly disagree with the author. If there are any trigger/choke happy morons on the OPPD force, then my all means let us fire them. As far as I can tell, they are competent, well-trained respectful officers, keeping OP safe (and diverse) despite its challenging location. I hope this trustee uses the term "defund" to mean "reduce scope of duties" or something to that effect, but it would be much better to be precise, rather than use this term, which suggests the absolutely ridiculous idea of no longer having a well-funded OPPD.

Len Musielak  

Posted: June 19th, 2020 9:31 PM

I think the principal in Billy Madison said it best... "what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul."

Dean Rogers  

Posted: June 19th, 2020 9:13 PM

Still no response about her bogus claim that 40% of Oak Park's budget goes to policing.

Bruce Kline  

Posted: June 19th, 2020 8:13 PM

Well said Doug. if this singularly delusional divisive inane Trustee is not a reason to get out and vote next Spring, then we deserve every idiotic program she proposes ... and have no one to blame but ourselves. Vote.

Doug Katz from Oak Park  

Posted: June 19th, 2020 7:58 PM

I am not going to comment on the contents of the letter itself. Based on the previous comments, the lines of opinion seem to be pretty well defined and nothing that I say will convince anyone anyhow. I will say that voter turnout was extremely low last village election and you can see the result. Some extremely talented and rational candidates lost because the segment of Oak Park aligned with a hyper-progressive philosophy did turn out. So please, please, please, for the love of all that is holy, please get out and vote next election.

Christian Ludwig  

Posted: June 19th, 2020 6:18 PM

Neatened, as we are, between the Chicago Westside, Cicero, Berwyn and Maywood, does anyone really believe defunding our PD is a good idea? The OPPD is our very effective shield against the influx of drugs and crime from those areas. Without that shield the enclave Oak Park is would soon sink to the level of quality enjoyed in our neighboring towns.... I, for one, applaud the OPPD for the hard work and dedication they show every day. Let's not make their work of protecting us and our lifestyle any harder.

Kline Maureen  

Posted: June 19th, 2020 5:14 PM

@William Dwyer Jr. - one of the best bumper sticker slogans I ever saw said this: "Common government philosophy - If it ain't broke, fix it until it is." That one never gets old for me!

Jack Davidson from Oak Park  

Posted: June 19th, 2020 3:39 PM

Conversation, yes. The Pareto principle obviously favors one race vs. another from a holistic view of the system itself - and that needs to change now. However, where does OPPD fall in this spectrum? I think a sensible approach to initiating these discussions and subsequent analysis on overall impacts while leveraging our collective motivation to make social constructs changes for the better is great. Let's be cautious about throwing the baby out with the bathwater, however.

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: June 19th, 2020 3:14 PM

"Reform what needs reforming." That about sums it up. I'd only add, "and don't fix what ain't broken." Whatever flaws the OPPD has, it is not anywhere near as broken as some windbag alarmists would have people believe.

Mary K Maloney from Oak Park   

Posted: June 19th, 2020 3:12 PM

I support the Oak Park police. I have lived in Oak Park for 40 years and in my experience with them, have always experienced a level of respect and professionalism. When my son was young and a student at middle school, he was shot at by a carload of young people and it was terrifying. His bicycle was strong armed away from him by a group of youths near the high school. My house has been broke into twice, and numerous things taken from our garage. Despite all of this over 40 years.....we feel safe. When a visiting relative disappeared from our house, I will never forget the focus and attention and caring the Oak Park Police Department gave our family in order to find him. Do not defund the Oak Park Police department but do defund this village trustee's re-election. Thank you Oak Park Police!!!!

Sheryl Oder  

Posted: June 19th, 2020 3:06 PM

We do not need to defund the police. We need to reform what needs reforming. There would be utter chaos without the police.

Tom Braam  

Posted: June 19th, 2020 3:03 PM


Bruce Kline  

Posted: June 19th, 2020 2:57 PM

Ah Ha. Our most divisive and delusional Trustee seems to be a disciple of the "never let a serious crisis go to waste" school of thought. Brilliant.

Mike Moroney  

Posted: June 19th, 2020 2:44 PM

I support and applaud the professionalism of the OPPD. Our Police Chief, LaDon Reynolds, was just appointed as one of five members to the Law Enforcement Training and Standards Board. This appointment comes from our governor and is dedicated to promoting and maintaining high levels of professionalism in law enforcement. He was appointed to this post out of merit. He runs a good operation, and they deserve our collective respect. Believing in societal justice and in the OPPD are not mutually exclusive.

Bert Fischer  

Posted: June 19th, 2020 12:14 PM

Cary, The reason people are so angry is because this particular trustee has no intentions of making anything better. People have been following her and watching her antics and non-stop identity politics and virtue signaling. It is one stunt after another with her. She plays the same game over and over again. She is an agitator. She is a bully. She has never been interested in having a conversation so residents aren't going to pretend otherwise. Do you know who else doesn't know what it is like to be a black person in Oak Park ? Arti. People are versed enough in their knowledge of history to know where things go when people use the tactics Arti has so I think the level of anger is justified.

Mak Flournoy from Oak Park  

Posted: June 19th, 2020 12:12 PM

Cont'd... This is about everyone feeling free to play. This is about liberating those that have far too often and for far too long been subjected to violence, poor health, poverty, and mental trauma at the hands of the very "Village" that's supposed to protect and serve them. Thank you for this!

Mak Flournoy from Oak Park  

Posted: June 19th, 2020 12:11 PM

To lead with a couple positive things...Happy Juneteenth to my fellow Black Oak Parkers and thank you, Trustee Walker-Peddakotla, for doing YOUR JOB and clearly laying out why more oversight and leadership is needed in reimagining and redefining (aka reforming) our community police department. It's so interesting to see how quickly some respond, without willingness to ask / learn and without hesitation to draw criticism to something that is so basic and makes so much sense. All that we're talking about is reallocating operating and capital expenses from the Oak Park police department and budget to more services that are so sorely needed for Oak Park youth, the homeless, our disabled residents, and our residents with mental health needs. Those funds can also be used for programs that help residents that need assistance (for a number of things). Isn't this what a real community does? I personally appreciated the story about the little black boys who had to endure the trauma of dealing with armed police at such a young age. Its not new, it's not infrequent and it has all too often led to the deaths of black boys. This is relevant because Oak Park police resources were used to deal with little boys PLAYING. Our Dispatch department should have cared more for our littlest residents by redirecting this white female caller and asking questions to understand what "threat" might really have necessitated an armed police officer to be sent out. Instead, they comforted an over reacting white adult, observing these little kids goof around. Here's the thing, this isn't personal. It's not about the resident police officer that may very well be pleasant to talk to. It's not about liking or disliking the police. This is about ensuring that all residents are proportionately cared for and what I mean is... needs based proportionality. This is about welcoming everyone into our community.

Cary McLean  

Posted: June 19th, 2020 11:50 AM

As a 30 year plus resident of Oak Park and I have had many positive interactions with our police - as a white person. I cannot even begin to know what or how our black residents feel - which is a problem unto itself - me not knowing how a very large segment of our community feels. Reading this article and the subsequent comments are so disheartening to me. I believe that we who live here think of us as a progressive community. The fear and vitriol that I read in the comments section makes my heart sink. If we, as the community I described above, cannot even have a conversation about the police and what role the police have in our community, how can we even begin to believe that other communities can have this conversation. To vilify a village trustee - and I don't know if the story she is citing is true - but to attack her for an opinion feels hypocritical of this community. I feel that we are embarking on a journey where this is just the beginning, unemployment, taxes, how we spend those tax dollars, government roles, police roles, fear; are all things we will have to talk about and decide as a community. Lashing our for an opinion is truly beneath us.

Bert Fischer  

Posted: June 19th, 2020 11:46 AM

While we're at it maybe we can defund the fire department and replace them with people who shout words of encouragement as people's homes burn down. The next election will have candidates that are part of this lady's cult. Make sure you know who they are so we don't have to read anymore blatant stupidity from brainwashed trustees. Not enough people vote at local levels so we end up with cult leaders. Her cult is big enough to pick up more seats even though the vast majority of this town rejects her ideas. I am ok with imagining what a world without police looks like, but I'm not ok living in that world.

Sandy Richter  

Posted: June 19th, 2020 10:31 AM

Trustee Walker-Peddakotla, I appreciate your creative thinking here and wonder if you have any specific ideas about how we might move in this direction? I'm relatively new to this idea, but I can see how reallocating some of the money we spend on the police to other community supports could be useful to our village and help to address some of the systemic racial issues involved. I'd love to hear more. Thank you for sharing.

Barbara Purington  

Posted: June 19th, 2020 10:12 AM

This Trustee does not know of what she writes and is fomenting discontent. I have worked with police depts. both here and in Albany, N.Y. in programs for crime victims. As a resident of Oak Park for over 30 yrs., I have had numerous encounters, initiated by me, with the Oak Park's Black, white and brown police officers. They are a cut above, intelligent, educated, courteous, and well-spoken. They act as though they have had extra training in dealing with Oak Park residents, acting as mediators, calling in a shift commander to confirm the decision on a course of action. I feel fortunate to have these highly trained public servants working in Oak Park. My intent in supporting OPPD is not to negate the experience of others.

Neal Buer from Oak Park  

Posted: June 19th, 2020 8:25 AM

The stupid voters of Oak Park elected this Trustee. Hopefully, we will not make that mistake again. "Fool me once; shame on you. Fool me twice; shame on me."

Joyce Siragusa  

Posted: June 19th, 2020 7:57 AM

I concur with Tom MacMillan.....this Trustee has continually spewed dissension.....more than a little disturbing rhetoric.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: June 19th, 2020 7:45 AM

The more that this Trustee writes, the easier it is to see how the only thing she ever sees is skin color. She has already decided if she likes or hates a citizen by simply looking at them. This is the kind of crazy we get when people don't show up to vote and in a town of 50,000 and a Trustee can get elected with only 2900 votes.

Dean Rogers from Oak Park  

Posted: June 19th, 2020 1:52 AM

Please explain your assertion that 40% of the village budget goes to police.It seems to me that the $25 million going to the police department out of $162 million in spending is far short of 40%.

Brian Slowiak  

Posted: June 19th, 2020 1:42 AM

@ Terrance Jones: The odes to her term will never expire.

Chris Weiler  

Posted: June 19th, 2020 1:03 AM

Defunding police and re-imagining public safety is for a more evolved society and people. Perhaps we will get there someday... but we are certainly not there in 2020. I find this article's profiling claims interesting... "We stop anyone who doesn't appear to "belong" here. Data shows that over 40 percent of the traffic stops made by Oak Park police involve people of color, mainly Black and Latinx." January 2017, I subdued an intruder who broke into my garage around 2:30am. After I secured the intruder, I called 911 and held him there until six OP police officers arrived to secure the scene and make the arrest. One of the police officers told me that due to profiling restrictions, even if they had watched this person, who they knew did not live at my address, walk to my back gate at 2:30am, open the gate and walk in, they could not and would not approach that person until a crime was committed or a complaint filed. The police have no objective, non-profiling means to determine if I invited this person to my home. Keeping it real... yes, many police racially profile. There is a police department in northern Lake County that for years has used the term B.I.T. (black in town) to alert other officers that a black person is driving through town. Unfortunately, racism and racial profiling are alive and well in many municipalities. However, data showing black/latinx make up 40% of traffic stops in OP does not necessarily prove 40% is the result of racial profiling. The subtlety of situation and behavior profiling... non-functioning tail lights, brake lights, expired plates, erratic driving, disregard for traffic signals and general behavior that is not consistent with the majority of residents in a given zip code... are often how police discover and apprehend those with outstanding arrest warrants.

Terence Jones  

Posted: June 19th, 2020 1:02 AM

When odes her term expire?

Ray Simpson  

Posted: June 18th, 2020 11:24 PM

Question: Is the OP police department pension fund fully funded? Before you turn them out you might have to write a whopping big check for failing to make the villages contribution.

George Irving Thompson from oak park  

Posted: June 18th, 2020 10:38 PM

Seemed to be an obsessive reference to black and white color of people skins in the article. Also, if children are hitting people and not obeying adults an adult witnessing the situation should try to help stop them rather than complain about someone else calling the police. Further more, with looting going on in our streets and neighboring cities, and our police department headquarters inadequate and outdated it isn't appropriate for a trustee to be talking about short term defunding of the police. Long term I have no quarrel with the general idea but to get there we need to have the super wealthy pay higher taxes, grow the middle tax with tax relief and grow the economy by bringing back manufacturing and targeting the poor for jobs. If we can solve the societal problems that cause crime then the funding of police will naturally go down and it will make sense to try other forms of public safety in an environment that becomes inherently safe. That environment does not exist yet..

Robert Zeh  

Posted: June 18th, 2020 9:33 PM

47 people were killed in Austin last year, so there is no reason to put quotes around the word unsafe. Oak Park borders a neighborhood where there is a lot of violent crime and to pretend otherwise is foolish and to not take that into account when sizing your police force is folly. This denial of objective reality will not end well.

Jim Major from Oak Park   

Posted: June 18th, 2020 9:17 PM

Defund the Oak Park Police Department? Knowing that a consultant declared the current police station a dangerous work environment ? I'm extremely proud of our police department and don't agree with the picture being painted by Arti and her group that lumps our police department in with all other departments . Way off base ,misguided and uninformed individuals acting completely unrealistic. I don't believe that the majority of Oak Park residents feel the same as Arti . I sure hope more people are willing to speak out in support of our professional had working police department. Now would be a great time.

Nolan Wight  

Posted: June 18th, 2020 8:51 PM

Wow, imagine being this far out of touch with reality. What an absolutely nonsensical piece of writing.

Al Rossell  

Posted: June 18th, 2020 8:34 PM

So here is my question to the author. A husband and wife are having a loud argument so a "mediator (I imagine unarmed) is sent on the call. After arrival, the argument gets more intense and when the mediator tries to stop it, the husband pulls out a gun and shoots the mediator. Is this what you recommend? Perhaps a better solution is more money for better pyschological screening of applicants, addition of a social worker on the payroll and additional training programs.

Chuck Raymond from Oak Park  

Posted: June 18th, 2020 8:17 PM

As anarchy ensues will my new favorite Trustee be able to help me? I think I will stick with the O.P. Police who have helped my family numerous times and have always been polite and courteous. Sometimes I like to deviate from reality but not when it comes to my families welfare.

Richard Gorman  

Posted: June 18th, 2020 8:10 PM

Not sure whether we're talking Covid or Cops here. My interactions with OP police over the last thirty years have been great. Professional and prompt. Of the many questionable things we spend money on in OP Police are not an issue for me. Your park example; I guess there may be another side of the story but bad behavior by either party is not a good thing. With regard to defunding- I'm a highly burdened taxpayer looking at declining property values- can we look for a defunding of the schools, that from my understanding are providing the most minimal instruction- maybe not open until 2021, the library, the parks, the pools, etc., that are not operational but staff still being paid? The private sector, that pays the bill, has had endured an enormous disruption to employment and business, lost wages, jobs never to return. Your thoughts for those of us who "fund" things?

Gary Sullivan  

Posted: June 18th, 2020 7:06 PM

Some people seem so removed from reality with their suggestions but that's their opinion However, an elected trustee spewing her/his belief i.e. defunding the police, is contrary to common sense and the safety of Oak Park and the neighboring communities. Let's say this person is successful what are the consequences; businesses leave since they won't want to invest, insurance companies might not be willing to cover properties or charge huge premiums, and when chaos erupts will the mutual aid currently existing want to render assistance? Get real trustee this isn't Kansas May the house land on you

Jacek Lazarczyk  

Posted: June 18th, 2020 6:55 PM

I like your response William Dwyer Jr. I love the OP police; I wave hello whenever I pass them. They protected me against an aggressive contractor (same skin color, btw). I cannot imagine living here without their service. Thank you!

William Dwyer Jr.  

Posted: June 18th, 2020 6:29 PM

Wow. A freaked out white woman calls the police on three young Black kids supposedly hitting people with their bikes, and Trustee Walker-Peddakotla thinks of "Tamir Rice, (the) young Black boy who was killed by Cleveland police at 12 years old for playing with a toy gun on a playground." So, Trustee Walker-Peddakotla, what exactly did the police do wrong there? Other than respond to a call for service? Seems to me the only criticism here, if any at all is warranted, would be of the woman, and not the police, who were doing their job. What should they have done? Ignore a call for service? And do tell, were any of the children harmed? And if not, what exactly is your point here?

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