watchdog

Jan 122019
 

I learned rather early in life that I wasn’t made for hard, physical work. All it took was one long hot day of baling hay by hand in a t-shirt. Never wear a t-shirt when baling hay. It took a number of years later to realize that I wasn’t made to be a police officer. It’s dangerous, very difficult, and nowadays very unappreciated. It’s also a very necessary job. It’s that thin blue line that separates chaos from safety.

Imagine pulling a car over for a traffic stop at 2:30am, and not knowing what you will encounter. Or being called to a domestic disturbance, or a burglary, or shots fired. Police officers run towards what most of run away from.

My wife’s dad was a police officer in Muncie, Indiana for 42 years. You have to really like what you do, to do it for that long, or maybe you just do it because it becomes who you are. He could have written a book, as is the case with just about every police officer.

I, along with my wife, had the opportunity to participate in Naperville’s Citizen Police Academy, along with about 25 other folks. It’s a nine week program that flies by, along with each 3-hour class. It is without a doubt among the best 27 hours of time I have ever invested. Many communities throughout the country offer the program, which is designed to acquaint individuals with activities of their local police department. Graduates become more aware and better informed about how the police department works.

The link below will give you an overview of Naperville’s program:

More information on the Naperville’s Citizen Police Academy

The following is a week-by-week view of the program’s content:


In a nutshell, Naperville does it right. The program is not just a NPD task or a service, it’s a commitment and a passion on their part. Every aspect of Naperville’s Citizen Police Academy (NCPA), is done with respect and class. Members of the Naperville Police Department are outstanding representatives of their profession, and of the city.

Greek poet Archilochus said, “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training”. Members of the NPD are always in training, even at 2:30 in the morning.

Jan 062019
 

We can thank Sir Robert Peel (1788 – 1850), considered the father of modern policing, for creating the foundation for today’s police departments. In 1829 Peel established the Metropolitan Police Force for London based at Scotland Yard. Unpopular at first, they proved very successful in reducing crime in London, and by 1857 all cities in Britain were encouraged to form their own police forces.

He kept it simple by using two principals; 1) the basic mission for which the police exist is to prevent crime and disorder, and 2) the ability of the police to perform their duties is dependent upon public approval of police actions.

Naperville’s Police Department Mission Statement:

To serve the community, while also protecting life and property.

Naperville’s Police Department Values

The pillars for which Naperville’s Mission Statement rests upon are,

  • Integrity – We are committed to actions that reflect honestly and integrity at all times
  • Employees – We are committed to working together as a team and serving the community with dignity and respect.
  • Accountability – We acknowledge, as a department and as a staff, the need to account for and accept responsibility for our actions.
  • Community Partnership – We are committed to collaborating with the entire community to build a partnership based on engagement, trust, and transparency as we carry out the great responsibility of enforcing laws and ordinances with the community, not on the community.
  • Diversity – We recognize the value of varying backgrounds, beliefs, perspectives, and experiences as being vital to our understanding and meeting the community needs.

Key Police Department Initiatives

The NPD has created numerous initiatives to strengthen its mission, all of which help the residents and businesses of Naperville including:

  • Drug Take Back Program
  • Gun Take Back Program
  • Lock It or Lose It Program
  • Safer Naper Program
  • Chat With The Chief
  • Connect For Life
  • Crisis Intervention Team
  • A.L.I.C.E. Training Program
  • De-Escalation Training Model
  • Peer Support Program
  • 21st Century Policing Model and The Five Pillars
  • Implicit/Explicit Bias Training
  • Citizen and Youth Police Academy
  • Citizens Community Radio Watch
  • Citizens Appreciate Public Safety (CAPS)
  • Police Chaplains Program and Prayer Initiative

Critical Issues Impacting Policing (2019 – 2024)

In order to stay ahead of the curve and trends, while always staying true to its mission, the NPD continues to be forward thinking regarding critical issues impacting our community, now and in the future. Four key areas identified are human resources, technology, communication, and collaboration. They include:

  • Revolution in emergency communications
  • Revolution in technology with current technological advancements occurring every 1.5 years, and moving to be instantaneous within 5 years
  • Gun violence / mass shooting / terrorism
  • Managing large-scale demonstrations
  • Opioid epidemic
  • Mental health and suicide cases
  • Crime rates & trends
  • Recruitment, hiring, retention
  • Training, leadership & employment development
  • Peer support for personnel
  • Cyber crime
  • Open data and social media communication
  • Customer expectations and needs
  • Community and police agency collaboration & partnerships
  • Intelligence led policing
  • Gold standard performance-based organizational structure
  • Legislation and unfunded mandates such as body cameras
  • Youth and senior population
  • Crime prevention programing
  • Traffic education and enforcement
  • Firearms Restraining Order Act
  • Economy and budget
  • Problem-oriented policing

One can only imagine that Sir Robert Peel would be proud to see and know what the Naperville Police Department has accomplished with the foundation that he created.

Dec 232018
 

There was a time when everybody in Naperville knew Robert Worthel, in fact, his name is prominently displayed just outside of the Naperville Police Department, along with the names of 11 other police department employees, including seven Naperville police officers who died while employed by the city.

Robert Worthel was the Naperville police chief in 1917. He died on September 5, 1917, in the line of duty while responding to the scene of an armed robbery. His motorcycle was struck by a motorist who turned in front of him at Washington and School streets. He was 34 and had been with the department for five years. He was survived by his wife.

Exactly 100 years later, Sargent James Galvan of the Richton Park Police Department read Chief Worthel’s story during roll call on Sept 5th, 2017 to honor him; an act of reverence and appreciation for a fellow officer.

Police officers put themselves in potentially dangerous situations on a daily basis, while protecting us. They run towards what most of us run away from. We read about and see it occasionally in media, but not nearly as often as it actually happens. FBI statistics for 2018 report that 53 law officers were killed by offenders while on duty, and an additional 51 officers died accidentally on the job. These numbers are up by 10% from 2017.

Naperville’s Riverwalk is considered to be the ‘gem of Naperville’, however there is another ‘gem of Naperville’ and it’s the Naperville Police Department. Under the leadership of Chief Robert Marshall, along with Deputy Chiefs Jason Arries, and Kathy Anderson, they have assembled an outstanding team of 271 employees including 169 sworn police officers. The Department has won numerous awards for its endeavors. While other police departments are seeing a decline of candidates for employment (unfortunately a sign of the times) Naperville is seeing an increase of candidates. With the possibility of 71 department employees being eligible for retirement shortly, high quality candidates are necessary to fill those positions.

Naperville’s police department has earned the reputation for being ‘the choice destination’ for law enforcement officers, not because of the low crime rate, but because the department “does it right”, all the way from recruiting and interviewing, to training, recognition, and opportunity. I spoke with a high ranking officer of the Hanover Park Police Department and their pool of candidates is down, not nearly enough to fill its needs. He acknowledged that the NPD is the preferred destination in the Chicago area.

While other cities are squeezing the budgets for their police departments, Naperville city officials have maintained a good budget for its police department, however if better is possible, then ‘good’ is not enough.

If I were the ‘King of Naperville’, I would make two proclamations. My second proclamation would be for the Naperville Police Department to have a new Command Vehicle. If Lombard and Glendale Heights each have one, then the NPD surely has earned one.

My first proclamation would be that the NPD should have and needs to have a Bearcat vehicle. Yes, it’s an expense but if each Naperville resident chipped in $1.75, that would be enough to make it happen. Better yet, Naperville city officials could reallocate some dollars spent on recycling and it’s leaf collection program for the purchase of a Bearcat vehicle.

The name ‘BearCat’ stands for Ballistic Engineered Armored Response Counter Attack Truck. Bearcats are armored rescue vehicles with their primary use being to transport tactical (SWAT / Special Reaction Teams) officers to and from hostile situations and assist with the recovery and protection of civilians in harm’s way during terrorist threats, hostage incidents, or encounters with large gatherings of aggressors.

Police departments including Naperville’s need all the help and support they can get, because the help and support they get, is used to help and support the rest of us. Makes sense doesn’t it.

Just as Sgt. James Galvan of the Richton Park Police Department honored Naperville’s Police Chief Robert Worthel, Naperville city officials could honor Chief Worthel by naming the Bearcat “The Robert Worthel Bearcat”. That’s doing the right thing, and doing it with class.

(This is the first part of a three-part series about the Naperville Police Department. The second part will cover the NPD’s Mission Statement, its Values, Department initiatives, and critical issues. The final part will cover Naperville’s outstanding Citizen Police Academy).

Dec 152018
 

Nine days remaining until Christmas day, which means in ten days the garbage and recycling trucks will be in high gear gathering everything we don’t want, including boxes, boxes, and more boxes. If you are into recycling, it could be the happiest day of your year.

It’s possible your recycling bin will be jam packed with stuff. All the recyclable stuff that doesn’t fit, can go into the garbage can, or sit along side your recycling bin. You can be sure it won’t be the recycling guy taking the stuff sitting outside of the bin, it will be the garbage guy. Hopefully the garbage truck drivers are earning more than the recycling guys.

The recycling truck guys must have a better union contract, because they will not get out of their trucks to pick up a perfectly beautiful cardboard box. It’s clean, empty, has no weight, but there it sits as the recycling guy drives by smiling.

One would think that the recycling companies would be making more of an effort to capture as much recycling stuff as possible, considering the recycling industry is tanking. The culprit is China. Yes, when all else fails blame it on the Chinese.

China has been the world leader for buying recyclables, but that pipeline is diminishing, due to China’s new anti-pollution program. Unless the recycling materials (plastic, metals, and paper) are 99.5% pure, China is not buying. That percentage exceeds the U.S. standard of 97% free of contamination (food, foam cups, etc). Since China is not buying, we are stuck with our own impure recyclables. Now rather than getting paid for recyclable material, we have to pay to get rid of it. That is not a long term good plan.

Even when recycling was ‘profitable’, the general population was not on board with the concept, with the National average of 35%. Naperville had the highest rate among Illinois largest cities, at 30%, but is was still well below the National average. If only those recycling-truck drivers would get out of their trucks and pickup a box here and there, Naperville could have exceeded the National average.

As it has turned out, maybe it’s just as good that the recycling guys drive by smiling without picking up big, beautiful, sturdy boxes sitting at curbside, because now we don’t have to pay to get rid of the stuff. The garbage guys can take it and fill up the landfills. Isn’t that what a landfill is for, to fill it.

If we want to save even more money, why not have the garbage guys pick up the recycling bins, and toss them into the landfill; bingo, another problem solved. Solving problems is not that difficult.

Dec 092018
 

The definition of ‘serendipity’ is ‘the occurrence and development of events by chance in a beneficial way’, or simply stated ‘a stroke of luck’. Naperville city officials might want to consider establishing a new Department of Serendipity within city government.

Naperville city officials are on roll of good luck. Earlier in the year, they called for resident-volunteers to create a group called ‘Drain Defenders’ to help unclog street drains of leaves and debris. When rain, a snowstorm, and ice hit Naperville November 25, it covered piles of leaves on about 40% of Naperville’s streets. Snowplows then pushed piles of leaves around many of which found their way to covering street drains. Bingo, Drain Defenders to the rescue.

Depending upon how many residents volunteered, Naperville has either an army of Drain Defenders (which is what is needed especially now) or if just a few folks volunteered, making the ‘army’ more like a gang. Either way, one Drain Defender is better than none.

During that same weather event, traffic signals became covered with ice and snow making it nearly impossible to see the stop-and-go lights. A few accidents occurred in Naperville, fortunately with no serious injuries. Apparently the problem was another ‘Trifecta of Nature’, 1) blowing snow, 2) it was wet and icy, and 3) newly installed LED traffic signal lights throughout Naperville don’t heat up enough to melt snow and ice.

Here comes the serendipity part, why not have city officials reach out for a new opportunity; a resident-volunteer group called ‘Traffic Signal Light Defenders’. Just like Drain Defenders, people can volunteer to clear off traffic signal lights. The city issued the first 100 Drain Defenders with a rake, a shovel, and a nifty orange vest, they could do the same with Traffic Signal Light Defenders by issuing an inexpensive tall ladder, an ice scrapper, a huge can of Rain-X, and florescent orange vest.

Naperville city officials have always wanted residents to be more involved with city government, this would help achieve that goal. The ultimate goal could be to have every Naperville resident volunteer to do something, in essence cutting expenses and lowering the budget. It would almost be like a colony of bees with everybody doing something.

There is no end to what Naperville’s Department of Serendipity, headed by its Director, could ask volunteer-residents to defend for including:

  1. Road-kill collector
  2. Street sweeping
  3. Code enforcement (neighbors not shoveling sidewalks)
  4. Mowing city property
  5. Changing street light bulbs
  6. Tax collector
  7. Court jester, during city council meetings
  8. City council member
  9. Timekeeper…residents can tell speakers when their 3 minutes are up during public forum. Better than paying the current time keeper.
  10. BS detector…they can Google every ‘fact’ the council states, if it doesn’t pass muster, an emoji of shame is shown over the person who made the fake statement.

To think it all started with Drain Defenders. Well, it actually started with Naperville city officials not having a better, well-thought-out plan for removing leaves from city streets.

Dec 022018
 

It’s been said that given a sufficient amount of time anything that can happen will happen. It didn’t take long for it  to happen in Naperville. November 25th, the day the Trifecta of Nature occurred;  rain, snow, and ice, on top of piles of leaves on the streets of family-friendly Naperville.

It was a beautiful sight, unless you had to drive or had leaves neatly piled at curbside. Over one-third of Naperville’s residents, primarily on the south side of town, still have leaves in their streets, but no longer neatly piled at curbside. The snow plows made sure of that by re-distributing the mess, much of which will find its way to Naperville’s street drains, where they may still be sitting until spring or when Naperville’s newly formed army of resident drain-defenders get to work with their rakes and shovels pushing it elsewhere.

Naperville’s curbside leaf collection program includes three leaf collections; one every two weeks scheduled to end this year on November 30. It ended five days early when Naperville had to convert all of its 22 trucks for snow plowing. So residents were left with wet leaves and soon to-be clogged street drains which can lead to flooding in spring.

Naperville city officials knew this could happen, but other than forming an army or likely a gang of drain-defenders, they did nothing to increase their odds of successfully keeping the streets clear of leaves. I don’t ever remember this being an issue when I was young, back when dirt was new. I do remember the autumn aroma of leaves burning, a sure sign that fall had arrived. I also remember the sound of fire engines racing through neighborhoods.

Naperville city officials (who are they?) did say that if storm sewer drains need to be cleared. the city can help if it becomes an issue. It would seem to be a good idea to do it now, rather than waiting until spring flooding.

Apparently it became an issue last Wednesday when enough residents complained to the city and on social media, and city officials had no choice but to reverse its decision to cancel the last leaf pick-up cycle, and decided to complete the third round of leaf pick-up.

So now it becomes a race between trucks converted for leaf pick-up and trucks converted for snow plows intermixed with garbage and recycling trucks, along with drain defenders against lots of frozen and wet leaves which have been plowed all over the streets and squashed by cars, trucks, and school buses.

City officials said via a Naper Notify message, “Please note, depending on this winter’s weather, this may take into the early months of 2019 to complete.” That’s code for “it may take all the way to the beginning of next year’s first leaf pick-up.”

In the meantime, let’s hope the army/gang of drain defenders are up to the task of working overtime and have the ability to dodge trucks picking-up leaves.

Nov 252018
 

Why does the Naperville city council wrestle with problems? Why don’t they just apply Occam’s razor, and also simply adjust the norms. Occam’s razor is the problem-solving principle that the simplest solution tends to be the correct one.

This is exactly how the city council solved the problem of homeless people in Naperville; they renamed them street-dwellers, and bingo, no more homeless people in Naperville. How simple was that. Naperville needs an ‘Occam’.

No matter what the problem is, just adjust the norm. Let’s take the Fifth Avenue Development’s need for parking spots. Just say that 200 new parking spots are needed, but we are going to build spots for 400 vehicles. If the good folks of Naperville are given a choice between 200 or 400, they will be twice as happy with 400. Problem solved.

Or how about this one. Just say the development calls for a 50-story building, but we are going to approve a 6-story building. Make the people happy. So simple. So much time and money can be saved without endless talking and studies and surveys.

There is no end to what city officials (who are they anyway) can say and do. “We need to raise the sales tax by 2%, but we are only going to raise it 1%”. That would make the fine folks of Naperville dance in the streets wouldn’t it.

Between Naperville’s Occam and adjusting the norm, we’d have no problems, only solutions.

Considering this is Thanksgiving weekend, watch and listen to Jim Gaffigan using the ‘adjust the norm’ solution to weight control on ‘CBS News Sunday Morning’.

Why focus on the 70% when it’s so much easier to focus on the 30%. It’s so much quicker to simply adjust of the norm.

Nov 182018
 

OK kids, let’s take hot cocoa drinks and homemade cookies, to downtown Naperville and sing Christmas carols around the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) Christmas tree. No more live Christmas tree in the heart of Naperville. It gives you a fuzzy, warm feeling doesn’t it. Maybe more fuzzy and itchy than warm.

Who’s brilliant idea was it to celebrate the season with an artificial PVC tree in lieu of Napeville’s long enjoyed tradition of a live evergreen tree, and why? Both answers are easy; 1) the Naperville Park District, and 2) to save money.

In a perfect world, the ‘life expectancy’ of an artificial tree is about eight years. The park district was able to purchase a slick 14-foot, polyvinyl tree for $3,400 using a cool 30% off coupon. Next year the district wants to purchase a 4-foot extension for about $3,200 bringing the total to $6,600 for an 18-foot tree. That equates to about $800 per year for the eight years compared to $2,000 per year for a traditional natural Christmas tree. That’s a savings of about $1,200 per year. That’s a nice savings until you realize that from that $1,200 you have to subtract the cost of erecting the fake tree and utilizing park district police. How many times have you purchased something like a swing set, with the words ‘assembly required, 5,000 easy pieces, no problem”.

Let’s be generous here and say $1,000 per year can be saved. Sounds like a good chunk of money, again until you realize the Naperville Park District’s budget is $39.6 million dollars per year. May not look like much until you write that number out…$39,600,000. That’s a lot of zeros. Getting a polyvinyl tree saves about .002% of the budget. That’s comparable to purchasing a $50,000 car and saving $100 if you get the cheap plastic floor mats that are so thin they have only one side.

There must be a better way for the Naperville Park District to save $1,000 per year rather than hoisting a polyvinyl Christmas tree upon the good folks of Naperville to gather around.

Consider this. Naperville Park District, Executive Director, Ray McGury, is the highest paid park director in the area with a base salary about $208,000 per year. If he made $207,000 per year, the good folks of Naperville could have a real Christmas tree. Would he miss the $1000 per year. It’s rather doubtful considering he gets $10,000 per year in deferred compensation, along with $7,200 in auto allowance for 2018. That’s $600 per month auto allowance. You can get a whole lot of auto for $600 per month.

McGury is hesitant to discuss his compensation. “I work for the taxpayers and their board of commissioners, so it’s not for me to comment on my performance” Apparently McGury is very modest about his accomplishments and very appreciative of the taxpayers. I wonder if McGury is appreciative enough to chip in $1,000 per year out of his own pocket, toward the purchase a real, live, 18-foot evergreen Christmas for the good folks of Naperville. Instead of calling it a ‘Christmas tree’, he could refer to it as the ‘McGury Tree’ and get a tax deduction.

Hot cocoa, home-made cookies, and a real evergreen tree in the middle of town. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Nov 112018
 

Naperville city officials are always saying something. Here are some recent comments from city officials:

  • “Naperville city officials have ID’d clogged drains as a major cause of roadway flooding.”
  • “City officials are aware that there is a second-hand market for commuter parking permits.”
  • “City officials would not comment on cases pending litigation.”
  • “City officials are looking for ways to cut expense.”
  • “City officials are more than confident that electric rates will go down.”
  • “Naperville homeowners are likely to see the city portion of next year’s tax bill increase for the first time in at least three years, city officials said.”

Who are these city officials, and exactly what is a Naperville city official?

I called the municipal center trying to get an answer, and no one seems to know. I started with the HR (Human Resource) department and nobody could define or explain what a city official is. I then spoke with the city clerk’s office, and again nobody had the foggiest idea. I figured the legal department would have to know, but again no success in getting an answer. In fact, the person I spoke to communicated with me as though I was looking for the legal department’s Holly Grail.

According to Google, by definition, a city official is someone who holds a position of authority. OK, so what does authority imply? Someone who gives orders or makes decisions.

About a month ago, I had to go to the Municipal Center to pick up some information and as I walked into the building, I heard a city worker (repairman) say, “Hey Jim, hand me that Phillips screwdriver.” That qualifies as giving an order, so would he be a city official? While I was in the building, two city staff employees were apparently leaving the building for lunch, and one said to the other, “Let’s go to Panera”. That qualifies as making a decision, so is that a city official?

I also spoke on the phone with the city manager’s office in seek of an answer to my question. She said an elected position is a city official. That sounded reasonable, until I asked her about the city manager, “He’s not elected, so does that mean he is not a city official?” I think she was done playing mental gymnastics with me, so the call respectfully ended.

I tried the city clerk’s office one more time, and asked if city officials are responsible for buying things and she said ‘yes’ until I asked about the person in charge of buying paper clips and rubber bands. Is that person a city official? She said not really.

I made one final effort to get an answer, and called HR again. I said, “If I wanted to send Christmas cards to city officials, to whom would I address them ?” The question was met with a long pause, and she said, “how about I find out and call you back?”. To which I responded, “No that’s O.K., but thank you, I doubt they would read them.”

Nov 042018
 

In two days the mid-term elections finally arrive. So much talk, so many mailings, so many candidates. With so many offices up for grabs, how is a person to know who to vote for. Frankly for me, most of the time I have no idea. I have a general idea, but I really don’t know for sure.

Some elections are easier than others for me including President, governor, senators, and city council, but for some of the obscure races it can be like throwing a dart on the wall. I look back on some of the candidates I voted for when I was young, and wonder, what was I thinking.

I remember being captivated in 1952 watching the presidential political conventions. I was only 8 years old but I couldn’t stop watching it on TV. So many people walking around, so many side conversations, people not listening while someone was talking, everybody was from the “great state of wherever” casting their votes for somebody, adding the votes, and then deliberations in a backroom somewhere, and then they’d do another vote. Lots of cigars and cigarette smoke with signs all over the place.

Ultimately it came down to Dwight Eisenhower vs Adlai Stevenson. I would have voted for Stevenson which would have been my first mistake ever in voting, with many more to follow. I once heard if you are in your 20’s and you don’t vote liberal, there is something wrong with you. And if you are in your 40’s and don’t vote conservative, there is something wrong with you. I didn’t really get it until I was in my 40’s.

I also heard “how can you complain, if you don’t vote”. My problem is still not knowing for sure who to vote for in those ‘less than sexy’ races. My dilemma is if I don’t vote for those more obscure contests, then how can I complain, and considering I like to complain, I am compelled to vote.

So over the years I have come up with some voting guidelines that work for me when I’m not sure who to vote for:

  • Vote for the new candidate, not for the incumbent. There is always that element of hope with a new person.
  • Choose a female over a male. Sounds sexist, that’s because it is. Men seem to screw things up more than women.
  • Vote for a name that I can pronounce. Can’t go wrong voting for anyone named ‘Donald’ as in Duck, as long as he is not running against a woman, unless the woman is an incumbent. Yes, it does get tricky at times, but it’s not that difficult.
  • Vote for the candidate that is ‘easy on the eyes’. Even if what they are saying makes no sense, it’s more enjoyable watching them say it.
  • Choose a non-attorney over an attorney. There is a reason the United States has 10% of the world’s population and 90% of the world’s attorneys, and it’s not because they are effective leaders.
  • Never vote to retain judges. When bad guys keep getting back on the streets, there is something wrong with the judicial system, and that something is likely the judges.

Finally, if you have to vote for a goofy-looking, male attorney, incumbent, with a bad haircut, make sure his name is ‘Bob’ because you can never go wrong voting for a guy named Bob.