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Officer Down

Sunday, March 3, 2013

An open letter to the Village of Westchester

An open letter to:

The Honorable Sam Pulia, Mayor of the Village of Westchester and the Board of Trustees

While I am not a resident of your village I believe I have a vested interested by virtue of my mother, Martha, and my sister, Sandy, and her family being residents in Westchester.

I am very concerned over what I have been hearing about your possible plans to privatize your emergency communications division. I do not believe this is a good idea for several reasons that I will try to outline for you.

For the record, I have known Mayor Pulia for over 20 years. I first met him, ironically, when he was the sergeant in charge of communications at the Westchester Police Department and I was young, new officer for the Northlake Police Department. Since that time I have held Mayor Pulia in the highest regard and consider him to be a friend.

As a former police officer I can tell you from experience that when becoming involved in an heart racing situation and you hear the familiar voice of your operator on the radio, it can have a very calming effect. You are talking to a person that you know and have met face to face. You both work for the same department and have equal interest in what is happening.

You lose this connection when you outsource your radio room to a company that does not even work on site but is located miles away from your town. At first, this idea may seem like roses and lilies but after a short time the reality sets in. You have lost control of the most vital part of your civil operation. After a while you will have different radio operators are working on your system (that you had no hand in hiring) in a bull-pen style operation and your officers have no idea who they are talking to at times.

If a mistake is made by the operator you have no input into the discipline or decision whether that operator works on your system again. You have effectively relinquished control of the primary source of communication between a village and its tax payers.

There is a trust factor that must be built between your residents and your departments. Who they communicate with in an emergency usually sets the tempo for a years long relationship. Do you want this first line being with people who do not work for the village? Or, who are not even IN the village at the time of the phone call. Currently you know who you have working for you. By outsourcing, who knows what you will get on any given day.

This trust factor must also exist between police officers, fire fighters, and the radio operators. This is built by seeing, talking, and interacting with each other in a face to face setting. Not just having a voice on the radio that is literally miles away.

I know that money is an issue. It is for every village across America. But is really worth the few dollars you save to give up the dedicated and quality service you now receive from YOUR employees to receive who knows what from who knows who?

As a police officer and as a family member to several of your residents I urge to reconsider the option and do not out source this most vital service to your tax payers.


Earl 'Duke' Filskov
Northlake, IL