More Disingenuousness On Cop Shop Plan


We’ve decided to end the week with one more post about the $1 million-plus police station plan, primarily because this week’s Park Ridge Herald-Advocate carries a letter by cop shop guru Frank Gruba-McCallister that seems so disingenuous as to require comment. 

For the sake of brevity and clarity, we’ve interlineated our comments in bracketed bold type.


Urge officials to fund Police Station plan

Over the past several months, the Police Chief’s Advisory Task Force has sought a solution to correct “the urgent deficiencies in the Park Ridge police station” [How “urgent” can these “deficiencies” be, considering that many/most of them are “structural” and have been part of the police station since it was opened? And which, by the way, houses a police department that continually receives high marks from the agency(ies) that rate police departments.] in a cost-effective way. The resulting plan was presented to the mayor and the City Council, and the aldermen have studied ways to fund it. I am one of the many volunteers who helped develop this plan and I am a longtime resident of Park Ridge. As such, I strongly encourage every citizen to study this plan (it can be found on the Police Department website, It explicitly presents the deficiencies of our current police station, explains the hazards they create [Like mold infestation, which is being ignored for the first two years of the plan’s three-year duration?] and outlines a solution for a cost well under that of constructing a new station. [Does that mean, Mr. G-M, that you consider “cost effective” to be anything less than the cost of a brand new police station?] If you agree with its conclusions, I ask that you encourage the mayor and the City Council to fund it.

Among the many obligations of the city government to the citizens of Park Ridge, one of the greatest is public safety. [On that, we agree wholeheartedly with Mr. G-M. And that’s one of the reasons why we object to plans that, on their face, seem knee-jerk, half-baked and bass-ackwards.]  We enjoy living in a generally safe and secure community. Part of the reason for this is the investment made in our police and fire departments. However, our sense of safety should not lull us into complacency. Communities just as small as ours, and just as generally safe, have suffered from crime outbreaks [What kind of “crime outbreaks” are you talking about, Mr. G-M? And what communities like ours have suffered from them?] and natural disasters [What kind of “natural disasters”? Did we miss a recent earthquake in Elmhurst, or a tsunami engulfing Wilmette?] that would severely tax our present police facilities. The fact that the recent murder investigation had to be [“Had to be,” as in somebody of authority requiring that it be?] relocated to Rolling Meadows because our station was too small to accommodate outside personnel highlights its shortcomings. [Did running the investigation out of Rolling Meadows compromise it in any way, Mr. G-M? If so, how?] 

Recent fire and police budgets have been cut. As a result, both departments have fewer personnel and resources. Any time a department is asked to do more with less, no matter how conscientious and creative its employees may be in performing their duties, the risk of not being able to meet a need increases. [How much has the “risk” actually increased? What if the department had previously been over-staffed?] 

In some enterprises it may make sense to operate with a narrow allowance for the unexpected. But in regards to police and fire services, such an approach does not pay off. [Why not? What serious and/or dangerous lapses in police and fire services have occurred as a direct result of the police and fire personnel layoffs in the past few years, or from the budget cuts?] By their very nature, they are emergency services and to prepare for emergencies a community must be proactive. Being proactive means taking steps to minimize the impact of a disaster [What kind of “disaster,” Mr. G-M? Plane crash? Tornado? Carrot Top performing at the Pickwick?]; that is, not waiting until a problem crops up and then fashioning an expensive, patchwork solution. Recent economic conditions and imprudent financial decisions made in the past (e.g. the Uptown TIF) have clearly placed strains on the city budget. However, the cost incurred by just one serious incident for which we are unprepared could dwarf our present money woes. [What kind of “serious incident” are you concerned about, and what kind of costs? If you’re truly concerned about health and safety, why does your plan put off until at least its third year the remediation of what appears to be the only concrete health hazard identified in the current cop shop – mold infestation – even though Chief Kaminski himself recognizes there may not be funding available by year three?]

We all pay for insurance for our home, life and automobiles knowing that it is prudent and responsible to do so, but also hoping that a tragic event does not require our using it. An investment in our safety and well-being [Mr. G-M, are you saying that every element of your cop shop plan “insures” that no problem will arise with that element once it is implemented?] is a sound investment even if it may come at some cost. [What’s the dollar-for-dollar return on this particular “investment”] The need for a better facility for our police department is the proverbial tip of the iceberg of a need to invest more fully in those who have committed themselves to protect and serve members of our community.

Frank Gruba-McCallister

Park Ridge Police Chief’s Advisory Task Force

To read or post comments, click on title.

4 comments so far

I don’t know Mr. Gruba-McCallister or why this has become such a cause for him. And I don’t know if I agree with him on this plan. But isn’t “disingenuous” a bit harsh? It sounds like he’s just advocating a position, like a lawyer would do in court. YOu understand that, don’t you?

EDITOR’S NOTE: We don’t know, either. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines “disingenous” as: lacking in candor; also: giving a false appearance of simple frankness.” We think Mr. G-M’s letter fits that description quite well.

If this is indeed a case of “edifice envy” then I hope the powers that be manage to get over it somehow. And soon. The Niles PD building has got to be one of the most hideous monstrosities to have been built in this area in recent years. A symbol of municipal excess if I’ve ever seen one. Anything even remotely resembling that structure in Park Ridge is unfathomable…and most certainly not necessary.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Let’s not get confused on what’s currently on the table. The new plan is not for a new cop shop. It’s for approx. $700K of additions to the the current facility (a sally port tacked onto the current building, a new “out” building to replace the current 229 Courtland building for which the City Council foolishly spent $662K in 2006, a “bike corral) to be followed by an approx. $600K renovation to the current facility two-three years down the road – assuming there will be money available at that time.

While the sally port, out building and bike corral are being built as priority items, however, the City will hold off on addressing an allegedly mold-infested police station, according to an Illinois Dept. of Labor 4-page letter (only the first page of which, interestingly enough, found its way into the Report, at page 38) dated May 5, 2011; and the Report further warns (at pages 34-38) may be exposing police department employees to such a health hazard that the City might get sued, like Louisville KY, or get stuck paying out a $2.85 million settlement, like San Diego.

So while Chief Kaminski, Mr. Gruba-McCallister and Mr. Cincinelli are shouting “mold” in a crowded police station, are they simply lying/fear-mongering…or are they callously continuing to give that alleged “health hazard” a low priority?

With respect to Anon 3.16’s comment, let’s suppose for a moment that Gruba-McCallister fervently believes this project is important to Park Ridge. With public input — in traditional media, blogs and appearances at public meetings — the city council can consider the project. They have two questions in front of them, however. 1) Is this a worthwhile use of public money? 2) If so, how does it rank among the priorities that must fit within our stretched municipal budget?

EDITOR’S NOTE: And (3): if “yes” to (1) and (2), should mold remediation (assuming mold is a legitimate health hazard and not an over-hyped one) take precedence over a sally port, bike corral and an evidence storage building?

If I worked in the police station I might be a little concerned about how my health rates in this plan. Did OSHA actually inspect the station and issue a report or cite the City?

EDITOR’S NOTE: Unless we missed it, we can find nothing in the Report that confirms any OSHA citation or findings of a prohibited level of mold. And, as we noted in our note to another comment, the fact that the authors of the Report included only the first page of a 4-page letter from the IDOL addressing a complaint about the police station suggests that those authors may be playing fast-and-loose with the facts on this point.

Leave a comment
Line and paragraph breaks automatic, e-mail address never displayed, HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>


(optional and not displayed)