OakLawn Contract Sought, 1991

Anchor IPSN March, 1991

Oak Lawn Chapter Seeks
New Contract, Tavern Law Change

Chapter Officers Poll Members On Supervisor Performance.

Officers of the Oak Lawn Chapter of the Combined Counties Police Association are nothing if not tirelessly creative. Headed by Chapter President Bob Foster, the four-man Executive Board is currently deep in the process of negotiating a new contract with the South Suburban village.

At the same time, the CCPA Chapter leadership team, including Officers Randy Meyers, Dennis Doyle and Dominic Grana, are also up to their badges in the virtually unheard-of process of formally evaluating the performance of the Oak Lawn Police Department’s top management.

As if these two projects weren’t enough to keep Foster and his colleagues around-the-clock busy, the Chapter Officers are also preparing to launch a village-wide referendum aimed at forcing more than a dozen Oak Lawn taverns to close at 2 a.m., instead of the current last- call hour of 4 a.m.

And yes, Foster, Meyers, Doyle and Grana do find time every day to handle their normal allotments of police work.

The CCPA contract negotiating team, including the local Chapter officers, CCPA General Counsel Noel Wroblewski and, on occasion, CCPA President John J. Flood, has been meeting on a regular basis with the Oak Lawn village negotiators. With a contract expiration date of December 31, 1990, both sides have been fully aware of the seriousness of their task.

In an effort to conduct negotiations away from the glare of publicity, as well as out of the reach of political interference, both sides agreed some months ago to hold all their meetings under “news blackout” conditions. So then, while saying that the CCPA Chapter is seeking “substantial improvements in all areas of wages, hours, working conditions and employee benefits,” Chapter President Foster could not go into specifics on the progress of the negotiations.

Foster points out that the ground rules of the negotiating process prohibit either side from disclosing what takes place at the bargaining table until a package is ready for presentation to the Chapter members. The Oak Lawn Police Department is made up of 77 patrol officers working at the direction of 26 supervisors who hold the ranks of sergeant, lieutenant, captain, deputy chief and chief. Before negotiations began, it was well known around the Chapter that most working police resented a $10,000 to $12,000 disparity between the salaries paid to patrol officers and their sergeants. It is expected—though not confirmed—that the CCPA negotiators are working diligently to close this gap.

Nevertheless, Oak Lawn’s patrol officers currently receive salary and benefits packages worth as much as $7,500 a year more than police in a number of Chicago area jurisdictions. Surprisingly, even the Cook County Sheriff’s Police Department, which is more than five times the size of the Oak Lawn force, pays its officers less than salaries paid to Oak Lawn police.

Evaluating The Evaluators.

CCPA’s Oak Lawn Chapter has to be a major contender for Organized Labor’s 1990 “Brass Balls” award. In a virtually unheard-of tactic of police labor relations, the CCPA Chapter recently mailed a carefully crafted evaluation form to its members, asking them to grade on a scale of 1 to 7, each of the Department’s “white shirts.”

“This is not a popularity contest,” Bob Foster explains. “We are simply looking for honest evaluations of our management, based on the valid experience and observations of our members.”

Foster reports that results of the police department management evaluation survey will be made available to top management people in the village government.

“We believe the Village Board does not disagree with us,” Foster days, “and we think our management evaluation effort will be taken seriously by all concerned.

CCPA Chapter Vice President Randy Meyers said a major purpose of the evaluation effort is to “improve communications between all levels of the Department, as well as between the Department and the community.”

The evaluation form asks CCPA members to rate their supervisors in the four broad areas of leadership ability, management ability, position effectiveness and the level of confidence patrol officers have in their managers. Although the evaluation forms were mailed out over the signatures of Bob Foster, Randy Meyers, Dennis Doyle and Dominic Grana, they are to be filled out anonymously and returned unsigned.

Ending Oak Lawn’s ‘Bottom Of The Bottle’ Reputation.

Oak Lawn, with about 69,000 residents packed into some 9.5 square miles of mostly single- family homes positioned on neat, tree-lined streets, has evolved into a South Suburban mecca for late-night booze hounds. After the bars on Chicago’s South Side shut off their spigots for the night, like Evergreen Park, Alsip and Hickory Hills, the unquenched crowd takes to the highway and heads for the dozen or so 4 a.m. bars still pouring in Oak Lawn.

Oak Lawn’s late-night bars are found mostly on such arterial roads as Cicero Avenue, 95th Street and Southwest Highway. Virtually every drinker who goes to one of Oak Lawn’s after-hours bars has to drive to get there. In that there are no busses to speak of, and cabs in the South Suburbs sometimes pick people up from Oak Lawn’s bars, but hardly ever drop them off there, the only way for most drunks to get their after-2 a.m. drinks in Oak Lawn is to drive.

“We have no dispute with bar owners, but the fact of the matter is, a different breed of individual drinks until 4 a.m.,” Foster says. “That person is usually responsible for disturbances not only in the bar, but wherever he ends up after leaving the bar.”

“He creates suspicious activity in the neighborhoods and poses the ultimate threat to life and property when he gets behind the wheel of his car,” Foster explains. “This is the ‘90s and the problem must be addressed.”

Foster suggests that every patrol officer on the Oak Lawn Police Department could be positioned outside the 4 a.m. bars, and they could bust virtually everybody who crawled behind the wheel of a car, but that would still not solve the problem.

“We need nothing less than aroused and informed voting by the citizens of Oak Lawn to rescind the four o’clock licenses of the taverns in our community and bring them in line with the two o’clock bars that are found in the rest of the South Suburban area,” Foster declares. “We simply don’t need everybody else’s drunks, and particularly, their drunk drivers.”

With that problem, Foster, Meyers, Doyle and Grana have launched a petition drive to gather enough signatures of the Village’s registered voters to put the question on the April 1991 ballot. The signatures have to be accumulated and filed with election authorities by February, Foster says, “but we believe there’s a real depth of support for the concept.”

As part of their after-hours bar closing campaign, the CCPA Chapter Officers have worked out a timetable and duty-roster for the petition-gathering phase of the plan. They have also put together an ad-hoc speakers bureau to bring their position to the attention of Oak Lawn’s various community groups. And, they have worked out a plan for getting out word of their efforts to the area news media.

“We think we’ve got a winner in our program to end the late-night drinking and driving out here,” Foster says. “And we think it’s an idea whose time has come. And also, we think police participation in this project will be good not only for our own CCPA members, but for everybody in the area,” Foster concludes.