Police announce improvements for Resident Beat Officer program

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Oak Park Police Chief Rick Tanksley wants to fill vacancies in the department’s community police officer program by adjusting some of its restrictions.

The current Resident Beat Officer (RBO) program has three vacancies, which requires officers to live within the town and beat of the territory they serve, according to the Chicago Tribune. Tanksley said it is becoming more challenging to fill them.

“Only 11 of our 90 patrol officers still reside in town,” he said at the Village Board’s special meeting on Feb. 8. “Four are RBOs and one is the RBO sergeant.”

Lacking local officers, Tanskley proposed a Neighborhood Resource Officer program that would provide an opportunity for beat officers to live outside of their assigned beat and the village of Oak Park. The program would let its officers remain and provide a potentiality for Neighborhood Resource Officer to switch over a beat officer position if one is moving into Oak Park.

Police Chief said the beat officer program is the department’s most “innovative and successful community policing initiative.”

“The goal at the time was to have RBO officers be mini-police chiefs in the areas they serve,” Chicago Tribune quotes Tanksley. “Their primary goal was to establish trust between the police department and the community and also thereby engaging the community in a crime-fighting and quality-of-life initiative.”

Comparing to beat officers’ benefits, Neighborhood Resource Officers would not be given a housing stipend and a take-home patrol car.

Besides a new program, Tanskley proposed a new Resident Beat Officer territory that covers southern side of the village.

“Although the RBO south of the expressway has done an excellent job, that area, in our opinion, is too big and too challenging for one individual,” he said.

Oak Park trustees supported the new variation of the community policing plan and complimented its adjustment.

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