Oak Park to add deputy police chief
Updated: December 16, 2012 6:48AM
OAK PARK — Village trustees have agreed to add a deputy police chief position to Oak Park’s 2013 budget.
Also Monday, trustees opted to retain two fire fighters originally hired two years ago with money from a federal grant.
The two decisions reverse a four-year trend of cuts and maintaining reduced public safety staffing in response to diminished general fund revenues.
Since 2008, the police department has seen top command staff serving under Police Chief Rick Tanksley reduced through cuts and attrition from eight to three – three deputies and five commanders to a single deputy and two commanders.
Interim Village Manager Cara Pavlicek told trustees the issue came down to the ability of Tanksley and his sole deputy, Anthony Ambrose, to provide adequate day-to-day oversight and supervision of both the patrol and operations divisions while keeping an eye on intermediate and long-term departmental issues.
“He really gave it a good effort, but (the organizational chart) is too high and too narrow,” she said.
Village President David Pope agreed. “The chief came to us and said the structure is clearly not working in terms of the long term,” he said.
As for the fire department, in September 2009, the village laid off five fire fighters and left a sixth position unfilled in the face of steep budget cuts.
Advocating for the retention of the two fire fighters Monday, Fire Chief Thomas Ebsen told trustees the fire fighters hired under a federal Safer grant have provided shift coverage that has reduced the need for mandatory overtime shift coverage. That reduces wear on other fire fighters over time, and allows department brass to provide a greater range of services, including enhanced EMS ambulance service.
Pope said finance staff and the board should “leave the two positions in and look at it over the next 12 to 18 months.”
Trustees will formally approve the 2013 budget by Dec. 10.