Shining A Light On Police Investigation RFP


As reported in today’s Park Ridge Journal (“Council Requests Bids For Police Investigation,” Feb. 13), at its February 11 meeting the Park Ridge City Council approved a Request for Proposal [pdf] (“RFP”) to be sent to several still-unidentified law firms who are being considered to conduct an “audit” of the Park Ridge Police Department. 

The fact that this discussion was finally held in open session rather than in the closed sessions where previous discussions of this subject had been hidden from the public suggests that Ald. Dave Schmidt’s (1st Ward) campaign for open, transparent government might be succeeding – as evidenced by the six speakers who stepped up during the non-agenda portion of Monday night’s meeting to thank Schmidt for his efforts.

A shout-out to Ald. Frank Wsol (7th Ward) is also in order, as it is Wsol – the chair of the Council’s Public Safety Committee – who has provided the impetus for this audit, at least partly in response to citizen complaints about various problems with the PRPD.  And it was Wsol who held firm when Ald. Robert Ryan (5th Ward) not only tried to eliminate one of the RFP subjects but also wanted to limit, if not exclude entirely, citizen input into the audit investigation.

Ryan’s attempt to nix any investigation into insider actions related to land purchases should have come as no surprise to anybody who has been paying attention to the City’s quest for a big new cop shop.  That’s because Ryan’s aldermanic campaign treasurer [pdf] was local realtor Owen Hayes, who almost pocketed a quick $200,000 from the City back in 2004 until a local reporter blew the whistle on the fact that Hayes was not just the broker but also the owner of the property he was trying to sell to the City for a new police station.  One can only assume that the investigators will at least look into that situation, which resulted in Hayes being reprimanded by the State of Illinois. See “The Park Ridge Police Station That Almost Was.”

And questions have been raised about the City’s recent offer to purchase the 720 Garden property for approximately $200,000 above the fair market value fixed by the City’s own appraiser – once that value was adjusted upward by lame-duck City Mgr. Tim Schuenke to reflect the actual square footage of the property.  Of course, we wouldn’t have known anything about that deal, either, if not for Ald. Schmidt releasing Schuenke’s “confidential” memo [pdf].

Joining Ryan in his attempt to limit the audit investigation was Ald. Don Bach (3rd Ward), who claimed he couldn’t see how looking into insider deals related to a new cop shop “is going to make the police department better.”  Such thinking should come as no surprise, either, as it was Bach who just a couple of weeks ago voted to give as much as $2.4 Million to Napleton Cadillac – while sternly warning Mr. Napleton that Bach would not buy another car from him because of the disrespect Napleton was showing the Council in refusing to answer questions posed by Ald. Schmidt.  No wonder Napleton was smiling as he left the Council chambers that night.

We’ll make it simple for you, Ald. Bach: Every dollar that the City doesn’t pay to some “insider” – or even an “outsider” – for the site of the new police station is another dollar that the City can, if it chooses, put toward a better police station, or better police equipment, or better training, or even better salary and benefits. 

Heck, we could even put some of that savings toward street salt, a shortage of which is keeping our streets iced up.  That might not make the Police Department “better,” but it would make the police – and the rest of us – safer.  And isn’t safety what the PRPD is supposed to be about?