$1.1 Million Cop Shop Renovation A Want, Not A Need


We here at PublicWatchdog generally are fans of citizen task forces to study particular community problems and provide input to our elected public officials. 

So when a task force was proposed in late 2009 to provide input and recommendations to the Chief of Police, the Mayor, and the City Council about the Police Department, we supported it.  After all, at that time the City had recently received the $100,000+ “Ekl Study” of the police department’s gaffes, shortcomings and dysfunctions; and it was just about to write a check for $185,000 to settle a police brutality/civil rights lawsuit arising from an officer’s alleged pummeling of a 15 year-old resident while in custody.  Clearly the PRPD needed some feedback from the community.

So the “Chief’s Advisory Task Force was formed in early 2010, and is now comprised of 25 citizen members, plus Chief Frank Kaminski, Cmdr. Dave Keller and Ald. Jim Smith (3rd).  After almost two years of operations, however, we haven’t seen all that much in the way of useful output from the Task Force. 

And that specifically includes a newly-proposed $1.1 million “upgrade” to the 50-year old police station, which was reported in a November 10, 2011 TribLocal article titled “Task force OKs $1.1 M in upgrades to police station.”  According to that article, this project is the brainchild of Task Force member Ralph Cincinelli, who identified “major flaws and risk factors inside the station” before coming up with his million dollar baby response. 

Although Cincinelli’s proposal reportedly doesn’t call for a “major addition” to the current building, the article states that it does include a “new separate, smaller building with a fitness room and space for property/evidence,” as well as a bike storage area and a sally port “to help transport arrestees securely.”

We’ve been hearing about the station’s “major risk factors” for years, well before the voters nuked the April 2009 referendum proposal for a brand new, triple-the-size cop shop which also was intended to address those risk factors.  Frankly, it almost sounds as if the physical conditions that create or contribute to those purported “major risk factors” may have been around since the police station was constructed, yet we’ve never heard of any actual incidents arising out of those factors.

Not that we would want to, mind you.  But if every member of this community were preoccupied with reducing or eliminating all the “risk factors” we face on a daily basis, we wouldn’t have the time or the money left to do much else. 

We assume that Mr. Cincinelli and his fellow Task Force members will come up with an actual report that will ultimately get presented to the City Council’s Public Safety Commission at an upcoming COW meeting.  Maybe by then he or somebody else tied to this project will try to answer the questions that we’ve been asking ever since then-mayor Howard Frimark and his “Purple Ribbon” Council became obsessed with the big new cop shop back in 2006-07:

  • How have the current police station conditions impaired the apprehension and prosecution of criminals?
  • How have the current police station conditions resulted in actual harm to PRPD employees and/or the public? 

Until those questions can be answered in ways that are acceptable to the taxpayers, we do not see the wisdom of spending $1.1 million to eliminate “risk factors” that remain unquantified either by likelihood of occurrence or by their consequences.  And we don’t see how coming up with ways to spend a lot of money furthers the Task Force’s mission. 

Then again, we’ve become accustomed to “mission creep” – both at the local level and at all higher levels of government.

And it’s never a good thing. 

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5 comments so far

You mean the Ekl study which the current Mayor pushed for and was recently panned by the same committee you mention?

EDITOR’S NOTE: You might want to consider getting yourself out of reverse, because Frimark hasn’t been the “current Mayor” for the past two years.

If you want to catch up with the rest of the world on this issue, however, go back to our post from 04.07.08, “It’s Almost Time For ‘Scapegoat Caudill.’”

What was the Chief’s Task Force’s mission statement? Was it to make recommendations for expanded or new facilities?

EDITOR’S NOTE: According to the Police Chief’s post on the Police Dept’s website:

“The purpose of the Chief’s Advisory Task Force is to provide input, feedback and recommendations to the Chief of Police, the Mayor, and the City Council regarding a range of issues or concerns related to the lives and well-being of the citizens of Park Ridge and the ability of the Police Department to fulfill its mission and purpose. The overarching goals of the Task Force are:

To foster a strong, collaborative and positive relationship between members of the Police Department and the citizens of Park Ridge.
To promote the safety and security of all members of the Park Ridge community.
To foster the highest degree of quality of life in the constituents that make up the City of Park Ridge.”

So there you have it.

Did I miss something? Is there a mention of a facility upgrade in there? Or is that up to the interpretation of the commissioners??
Where would the moola come from anyway?

EDITOR’S NOTE: For those who want government to do something, “moola” never is an object.

Looking at the H-A’s article they say the jail space meet 1960’s standards. While both the city hall and PD have operated in that building since 1962, I do believe most of the station is under the council chambers which is an addition built in 1987. So unless some of it is also underneath the rest of the building, I wonder about the jail space?

Oh, no. Not this again.

Hopefully this doesn’t go anywhere. The City Council couldn’t possibly consider a million-dollar police station improvement when we’re in such a hole already. I’m a big supporter of the police — to the tune of thousands of dollars in property taxes the past few years and I’m tapped out.

Local observers may remember that Frimark tried to interfere with the petition-signing process that led to the April 2009 referendum rejecting a plan to spend — was it $700,000? — on police station improvements. His silly explanation for sending police to stop the petitioners was probably one of the things that killed his re-election.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Plenty of things killed Frimark’s re-election, every one of them which Frimark brought on himself – like $400K for Napleton’s environmental cleanup and another $2 million in revenue sharing. For those who don’t know better, THAT’s what “cronyism” looks like.

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