EXCHANGE: Hanover Park officer serves community
by JOE LEWNARD
HANOVER PARK, Ill. (AP) — The Hanover Park Police Department does not officially have an "officer friendly" program, but it does have officer George Sullivan .
Officer Sullivan serves as the strategic enforcement and prevention officer for the department. With his personable and friendly demeanor, he goes above and beyond the call of duty to serve the community. Sullivan is what community policing is all about.
"My main thing is outreach," Sullivan said. "To get the connection from the police department to the citizens so that we have a flow of communication, because, one of the main things with policing is information flow, and if we don't have the backing of the citizens, that information flow stops."
He adds that while officers engage in their investigations to solve crimes, it's often a tip from a citizen who calls 911 that helps to solve many situations in Hanover Park.
Sullivan, 46, is a graduate of Illinois State University and is entering his 25th year with the department. He lives in the Northwest suburbs with his wife and three children, ages 9, 7 and 2.
One of Sullivan's main responsibilities organizing the annual COPS Day picnic, an event held in July which alternates between the north and the south sides of town. Police officers grill hot dogs and mingle with residents among an array of emergency vehicle and helicopter displays, sports team mascots, a "Dunk the Cop" tank, a police dog demonstration, raffles and information booths.
"It's a good way for the people to come and see the officers in a relaxed atmosphere so they can talk," Sullivan said. "And a lot of that builds relationships."
A few years ago, the Hanover Park Lions Club reached out to Sullivan and the Fraternal Order of Police lodge for help with an effort to assist families in need during the Christmas season. Some of the Lions Club's private donors were no longer able to provide the support that they had in the past, so Sullivan and the FOP responded with donated food and presents.
"We have bags of toys wrapped and ready so the kids can have something to open on Christmas," Sullivan said.
Sullivan became a police officer because he wanted to make a difference in the community, and he feels he has been successful with this goal.
"My way of policing is being open, friendly," Sullivan said, though he also says that, as with any officer, there are times when he has to be firm.
"You've got to make arrests, you've got to write tickets, you can't always be shaking hands and smiling," Sullivan said. "Sometimes you actually have to do enforcement, which is education, to hopefully get people to do the right thing."
14 graduate from Rockford's Citizens Police Academy
by Chris Green
ROCKFORD — This group of CPAs probably can't help you much with your taxes.
That's because they are not Certified Public Accountants. They are the latest graduates of the Rockford Police Department's Citizens Police Academy.
The diverse group of 14 young adults to senior citizens made up the department's 10th graduating class. They were presented certificates by Mayor Larry Morrissey and Chief Chet Epperson Wednesday in a biannual ceremony held at the Public Safety Building. Today's class increased the number of graduates to 209 since the volunteer program's 2009 inception.
One day a week, for the past seven weeks, the participants learned what happens from the time a 911 call is made to the time an arrest is made and a case is presented to the Winnebago County's State's Attorney's Office for prosecution.
The men and women learned about the various components of local law enforcement that contribute to public safety such as 911 Center operations, community policing, crime prevention, drug and gang awareness, crime analysis, criminal laws and city ordinances, identity theft, and organizing and maintaining a neighborhood watch group.
Community Services Supervisor Sgt. Carla Redd told the graduates to, “Take the information you've received back to your neighborhoods and strengthen the community around you.”
Roger Gorman, 64, a member of the West Gateway Coalition, said he participated in the academy with his daughter, Robyn Gorman, 34, for a couple of reasons.
“The gangs and drugs are getting worst, and I wanted to learn more about that,” he said.
The Gormans said it is not enough to simply report crime. They want to take what they have learned and join the police department's Citizens Assisting Police volunteer program. CAP members perform various tasks within the department such as manning the front desk at the Public Safety Building, typing in traffic ticket information and updating the department's fingerprint database.
Morrissey called volunteers like the Gormans an “untapped resource” when it comes to fighting crime.
“Everyone knows we have challenges economically,” he said, “but we have this vast, really limitless capacity when we start working with our citizens.”
The police department calls the Citizens Police Academy a stepping stone to joining the CAPs program.
Labor Department Wants Safety Reports Made Public, Source Says
by SAM HANANEL
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Labor Department wants companies to begin filing all workplace injury and illness reports electronically so they are available for anyone in the public to see.
The department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration will announce the plan on Thursday as part of a proposed rule that would dramatically change the way companies file safety records, according to a person familiar with the proposal.
The person requested anonymity so as not to get ahead of the formal announcement.
In a description of the rule, OSHA said a new electronic reporting system would help the government, workers, researchers and the public more effectively prevent workplace accidents and illnesses. The agency said the change also supports President Barack Obama's initiative to increase public access to government data.
The plan would apply only to companies with more than 250 employees.
While the proposal is expected to please labor and workplace safety groups, business groups are likely to oppose it. They say raw injury data can be misleading or contain sensitive information that can be misused.
Marc Freedman, executive director for labor policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said the mere recording of an injury does not tell the full story about the circumstances surrounding it or whether the company has a good safety program.
"Making company-specific data on injuries available for all to see would be a major problem and would likely lead to companies being targeted by outside groups who want to characterize these employers as having bad safety records," Freedman said.
Under current rules, employers are required to post summaries of injury and illness reports in a common area where they can be seen by employees.
Some safety advocates have complained that OSHA fines are often not high enough to deter companies from having safer workplaces. But Congress has resisted calls to increase the agency's authority to impose greater fines. Public disclosure of accident reports could be another way for OSHA to increase pressure on companies to comply with safety rules.
The proposed rule is part of a flurry of activity at the Labor Department since Thomas Perez was confirmed to head the agency earlier this year. In August, OSHA announced plans to dramatically limit workplace exposure to silica dust.