This has not been a good week for Naperville city officials as they continue to lose credibility with Naperville residents and others in the Chicago-land area. This seems to be a common reoccurring theme for the city council, and for city manager Doug Krieger.
It all stems from a dismal lack of leadership, which places residents in a financial squeeze, while compromising the safety and well-being of more than 143,000 residents.
Since the first of August there have been 28 home burglaries in Naperville, many of which were committed while residents were at home. Prime time for these break-ins appear to be late Friday and Saturday nights on the city’s north-northwest and south-southeast sides.
During Tuesday night’s city council meeting, police chief Bob Marshall appeared uneasy and at times nervous while fielding ‘softball’ questions from council members. Though he tried to position the burglaries as not that unusual, nobody that I know bought that logic, and in fact the television and radio media hasn’t either.
The problem rests squarely on the shoulders of the Naperville city council for three reasons. First, because of the abundance of liquor licenses in downtown Naperville (and the number continues to increase), a high number of police are assigned to a relatively small downtown area in an attempt to minimize alcohol-fueled ‘dust-ups’, bar brawls, and all-out illegal activities. Since they have to focus on that, they can’t be doing their jobs in the neighborhoods. Secondly, there are an unusual number of police officers at every Friday night Naperville Central football game. I along with a couple of friends have gone to high school Friday night football games throughout the Chicago area for years, and nowhere do we see the saturated presence of police officers as we do in Naperville. And finally the Naperville city council appointed the assistant city manager as the police chief, when the previous chief retired. If the largest city in Illinois, and the smallest city in Illinois have genuine police officers by definition as their police chiefs, shouldn’t Naperville.
This all comes during the same week that the City of Naperville settled an ‘excessive force’ lawsuit for $435,000. The lawsuit was brought by a Lemont woman who suffered a torn rotator cuff when she struggled with Naperville police officers in 2010. Since the city is self-insured, the $435,000 settlement is coming from the police department’s budget. Those are huge dollars that could have been used to hire additional police officers, who then could be patrolling Naperville neighborhoods. It’s likely those 28 burglaries wouldn’t have been a news story.