Residents Would Like To Improve Visibility
By ANNE LUNDE
Journal & Topics Reporter
Superintendent of Public Safety Donald E. Stephens III is tackling community policing in the village one area at a time.
After some successful gatherings at the Barry Rec Center for the apartment area on the “Courts” south of Touhy, and some visits at the Rosemont Senior Citizens Club, the department made its first stop at the recently expanded Dunne Park center south of Higgins on May 23.
Rosemont may be small geographically, but on any given day or evening, conventions, concerts, or sports events could pack the village with thousands of visitors.
Stephens supervises a three-branch organization with deputy superintendents: for patrol, fire suppression, and support and EMS (ambulance) services.
Color coding in shirts and shoulder badges help; the auxiliary badges are backed in light blue.
The department’s full time staff runs between 120-130 full-time officers. The department cross-trains police and fire skills, a practical measure first introduced when Rosemont’s convention business brought new hotels around town and the requirements for firefighting got expensive.
Large crowds require traffic control and security at the Allstate Arena, MB Financial Park, the Rosemont Theatre, the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, the Ballpark in the Dome, Fashion Outlet Mall…. soon to be joined by the baseball park on Pearl Street which is under construction.
The department has been conducting aggressive recruitment and training for its Auxiliary, a part-time force which can range between 300 and 500 men and women, who are called when needed. Officers already qualified as sworn officers elsewhere work part time as security specialists, usually 50.
“We’re 475. We need 500,” Stephens added.
Another graduation was planned for 32 auxiliaries Monday, June 5 at the Convention Center.
On that particular Tuesday, May 23 evening, the East Leyden High School graduation filled the Rosemont Theatre to capacity.
The concert attack in Manchester, England, the previous day had all venues on alert May 23. Rosemont vamped up its security for “The Weekend,” the band at the arena.
But even a relatively normal night on the south end of town can call for reinforcements. Rosemont hires Monterrey Security to handle getting offenders into custody in holding rooms where patrol officers can be called to complete arrests and processing.
Unlike most adjacent communities which have joined public safety command centers, Rosemont maintains its own dispatch center.
When Des Plaines closed its center a couple of years ago, the RED Center in Glenview took the fire dispatch for Park Ridge and other Maine communities, while West Suburban (Oak Patk, River Forest, Elmwood Park, Park Ridge and Forest Park) handles the police calls.
Both the Park Ridge chiefs have reported there is a movement to have all municipalities join such a center. It’s a trade-off between having less work at home and being kept busy covering other departments.
Stephens said Rosemont is in a fight to retain the independence of its 911 center. Rosemont Dispatch staff can send officers and firefighters more quickly within the bounds of the village and the centralized police station and fire station. The River Road fire station now houses some police work as well.
Rosemont does participate in other types of mutual aid for adjacent jurisdictions, whether suburbs, tollways or special investigations, such as searches with its two K-9 teams or activities for its SWAT officers.
Having detectives or special officers assigned to the Major Case Assistance Team gives Rosemont officers specialty training they may not have a chance to practice often enough on local cases.
Fire, HAZMAT or tactical rescue work is also helpful. A creek runs through Rosemont and connects to the Des Plaines River. Practicing boat rescues is a handy skill these days, as it was in the early days of the village.
In addition to orientations on department operations, Stephens and several other officers attend these meetings to field resident questions and listen to concerns.
Some at the Dunne Park meeting said not all the landlords kept up working lights between apartment buildings. A lack of visibility for buildings backing toward the park is something they’d like to improve.
At times, the wooded park along Willow Creek tempts visitors to look for a quiet area away from prying eyes. The local swan and geese are more likely to make a ruckus even faster than the neighbors, but it is an area police like to monitor.
Community development questions also may turn up at these meetings, although they’re beyond Public Safety to solve.
One practical neighbor complained there wasn’t a real grocery store in the village (Des Plaines and Park Ridge have large stores just over the borders). But there was the Donald E. Stephens Museum of Hummels, she added. (The collection, donated by Stephens’ grandfather, was originally in the lobby of the Convention Center before moving to the Rosemont Plaza on Higgins.