It’s amazing what the power of communication has to teach, to understand and to learn. As I’ve said previously – I’m in this to bring awareness to myself and my neighbors, not just to make a point or be a pain in the butt … and part of that means learning and adapting to new and changing information. Reasonable people can disagree – but often times disagreements arise out of a lack of communication, not out of a common goal to make things better.
I had the sincere pleasure of being able to speak with the Director of Public Safety about some of my concerns, and although I’m not going to say that all my concerns are gone and alleviated, I feel as though at least one person in the Village has heard my concerns and takes them seriously – and that is a fantastic beginning. This gives me hope that our Village can move in the right direction when the right information is being looked at. I’m a firm believer that the people running our Village aren’t dumb – but merely under-informed about the sincerely unique needs that public safety has in order to accomplish it’s mission (and once again – public safety is still, in my view, the primary mission of any village.) And as always, communication with the residents of Village is absolutely critical to both ensuring a happy public AND keeping discontent to a minimum.
Something I learned is that my assumptions aren’t correct about how the police necessarily operate. So in that, I’m not above admitting that I’m wrong when I am, and when saying that police “response” may have suffered as a result of the cut backs – I was. As it turns out, which is why I love digging into things, researching and learning, there are nuances to policing that transcend any perception that the public, including myself, may have. Statistics that I’ve become used to looking at and using to gauge protection of an area may apply to fire sciences, but not to police sciences. Of course it stands to reason that what statistics work for one unit of public safety may not apply to another – and that’s exactly where my assumptions were exposed and I learned – the police use an entirely different set of statistics and protect our town in a different way. I can confidently say that Director Popp is an extremely knowledgeable and well spoken guy – who is undeniably an expert in the field of police work. As such, I’m glad that I now feel confident in the police department’s ability to respond to my home in the event of an emergency, and I hope that my fellow neighbors and readers take heart in that as well. (Of course, this is my opinion – as always, I hope that others who have questions will contact their Trustees or Director Popp to for more information!) I look forward to the day when I can say the same thing about the fire department (which, as everyone is aware of by now – I do have a very good understanding of) as well as the day when the Public Works department is afforded the same level of attention to it’s significant role and impact on our lives as residents as other public safety departments – and they are listed alongside Police and Fire and given the proper level of importance as well. Cuts to all these departments need to be justified to the public – after all, it is us that they directly effect. I’ve said it before, and I believe it wholeheartedly – the spending on various village departments needs to be set according to the level of priority determined by the residents of village.
This also makes me a little upset at my trustees – Having asked multiple times for a phone call, communication is ultimately the key – and it’s important that our elected representatives do what they were elected to do – represent us. Just as I learned a great deal today about a subject that I have a great deal to learn and understand, I hope that my trustees will take the time to have the same candid conversations with the department heads and deputies directly – their knowledge can provide them insight that, when watching the board meetings, doesn’t seem to be reaching them. And in the public’s mind – appearance is everything.
One thing I can still say with confidence about police operations – community involvement is absolutely critical to the police’s ability to keep us safe – and it’s really all our responsibility to “take our head out of the sand” and pay attention to the world we live in. It’s easy to question our local police and their motives when the only interaction we may have with them is negative – tickets, arrests, etc… One thing my job has taught me though – working closely with the police officers in our town, is that they are truly committed and hard working people – just like ourselves and our neighbors. The difference between that somewhat cynical point of view and mine in this respect is – I actually know the guys, I talk to them, share stressful moments, laugh – etc. To me, they aren’t “The Law” – they are people trying to keep me and my family safe, and that makes a huge difference. I teach my kids to trust them and go to police officers if they need help. The Police Department has (or has been working on) several programs to increase their outreach to our Village, neighborhood watches and the Citizens Police Academy – and I wholeheartedly recommend that any and all residents that would like to participate contact the police department for more information. Together, along with the public safety departments like the police, the residents of our Village can get involved and make it a better place!
As solutions are always important – I’d like to offer the following to my Trustees as a way to increase communication: Creation of a Resident’s Advisory Committee – I realize that we already have quite a few committees in the Village, but let’s be honest – they deal with specific issues within the village (zoning, parks, finance etc), and don’t really address citizen concerns as a whole. A Resident’s Advisory Committee could be formed to specifically advise the Village Board on issues that matter to the residents – Policy, Mission, Goals, Priorities, Spending, etc. Such a committee could increase and extend the Board’s representative reach and impact and provide the citizens with a direct way to impact and improve the village in which they live in. Communication IS everything – what better way to communicate with the residents than face to face in an organized and effective manner? Couple that with a monthly “coffee and donuts” for business owners in the community, and the Board would be well on it’s way to ensuring that everyone who has a legitimate concern with how our Village is run, what it’s mission and priorities are, and give the Trustees a snapshot to gauge how the community as a whole is responding to it’s decisions. Knowing about key issues before they become major headaches is, in this citizen’s opinion, a far better way to manage than to have to react to things after the fact.
Have a great day and stay safe!