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Spring Vote on Police Merger Bill Not Likely

The Fraternal Order of Police opposes the bill, which has not yet gotten out of committee in Springfield.

State legislation clearing the way for a Hinsdale-Clarendon Hills police department merger likely won’t be voted on by the Illinois General Assembly until the fall, according to officials from both villages.

village manager Randy Recklaus said the bill has not yet made it out of the House’s Cities and Villages Committee, and because of a truncated, election-year legislative session, likely won’t get out until the veto session this fall.

Recklaus, Clarendon Hills Village President Tom Karaba, and village manager Dave Cook to take questions from the committee on the bill, which is sponsored by state Rep. Patti Bellock (R-Hinsdale). They were informed at that time that the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), an organization that represents police officers, opposed the bill because it had not had the time to review it.

“The FOP didn’t have a chance to react and so they threw everything and the kitchen sink at [the bill] to make sure it didn’t get out of committee,” Karaba said.

Cook said the FOP still opposes the bill because it still hasn’t had a chance to go over it with the communities. A meeting between village officials and FOP representatives to discuss the bill is set for next week.

“We’re going to meet with the FOP and see if we can come up with some agreed-to language,” Cook said.

Recklaus said he thinks that because the bill proposes a new idea—the complete merge of two village police departments—legislators don't want to rush it.

After making the Springfield trip in March, village officials hoped to get the bill through the House and Senate and to the governor’s desk by the end of the session in May. Cook said Tuesday there’s an “outside chance” that could still happen, but the fall veto session is a better bet.

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Both village managers said planning for the merger in Hinsdale and Clarendon Hills won’t stop because of the delay in Springfield. Between now and the fall, the two villages will work on an inter-governmental agreement (IGA) as well as the governance and financial structures that will be put in place if the legislation passes.

Currently, Recklaus said, the villages have a common basic framework in mind for those structures. 

“But the devil is always in the details,” he said. “So we still have a lot of work to do on this to come up with a viable model.”

The villages’ costs related to attaining the police merger legislation are covered by a $70,000 grant from the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA), which supports the merge.

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