Police Chief 'Disappointed' After Merger Fails
Hinsdale Police Chief Brad Bloom and Clarendon Hills Police Chief Ted Jenkins both said police-department consolidation will likely become common in Illinois in the future.
After the villages of Hinsdale and Clarendon Hills announced police department merger talks were dead last week, Hinsdale Police Chief Brad Bloom said a chance to responsibly and thoughtfully consolidate was lost.
“I am disappointed,” Bloom said. “I think we had a great opportunity given the fact that we weren’t facing a huge budgetary shortfall.”
Both Bloom and Clarendon Hills Police Chief Ted Jenkins said they think police consolidation, though currently unprecedented in Illinois, will become a common occurrence.
“I think in the future you’re going to see police departments consolidating in Illinois to save money,” Jenkins said.
After going public with a consolidation plan in October 2011, the villages of Hinsdale and Clarendon Hills announced in a joint release March 6 that they were scrapping the plan after reaching an impasse in negotiations with the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), the patrol officers' union whose support was seen as important to the passage of state legislation allowing for the full merge.
The sticking point in negotiations was the loss and replacement of Social Security benefits received by Clarendon Hills officers.
Bloom and Jenkins both said the FOP negotiated in good faith and neither chief blamed the Clarendon Hills officers for not wanting to give up the Social Security benefit.
“They’re acting within their best interests and looking out for themselves,” Bloom said.
The Hinsdale chief did say that now is an ideal time to merge, considering the departments have time to standardize procedures without any fiscal pressure, and grant money is available from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority to perform the work.
“I’m just hoping that eventually some day we’re not forced into consolidating when we are facing a huge budgetary shortfall,” Bloom said, noting the lack of standardization and quality of service that might accompany such a forced merge.
No matter how much time and thought go into them, Hinsdale’s chief said he thinks mergers are the future because of the harsh realities of state and local budgets in Illinois.
“We’re going to have to figure out new and innovating ways to deliver police services,” Bloom said, “and one of those ways is consolidation.”
Jenkins cited the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department as one the Clarendon Hills chief said efficiently serves a number of municipalities.
“Once the first couple of departments [in Illinois] merge, I think it’s going to become pretty common,” Jenkins said.
It appears those first couple of departments, though, will be elsewhere.
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There are plenty of ways to keep up on Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills news:
- Police Merger Plan Scrapped After Negotiations Fail
- Social Security Benefits 'Big Hurdle' in FOP Negotiations
- Police Merger: Patti Bellock Says Referendum Idea Came From Residents
- Police Merger: Clarendon Hills Board Says No to April Referendum
- Police Merger Would Eliminate 5 Positions, Save Villages Up to $800K, Officials Say