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Sunday, August 7, 2022

Here’s What’s Happening With Park Forest Police Reports

Police Reports December 29, 2011
A stack of Park Forest police reports in December, 2011. Reports at the time were all printed. In 2017, records are kept on computer. (Photo: Gary Kopycinski)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- eNews Park Forest would like to update our readers on the status of the Park Forest Police reports. Our recent reports have been sparse, to say the least.

We learned this week that, as former Village Manager Janet Muchnik used to say, “There’s a story behind that.”

Had the opportunity this week to sit down with Police Chief Pete Green. Chief Green said this was an opportune time for us to discuss the reports, as there have been changes made to the keeping of records at the PFPD. As the chief said a few times during our interview, “This is 2017.” All departments in the Village of Park Forest have been moving toward sustainability. This is true for the police department as well.

The police department has moved from Frequentis to Spillman Flex, for reports and record keeping.

On a personal note, I can attest from my years on the Village Board that Frequentis failed on so many levels.

Spillman has depth, and the department is looking into ways of taking full advantage of everything Spillman has to offer.

Toward that, few, if any reports down the road, will be printed.

When our reporters stopped by the PFPD in recent weeks to read reports, contrary to the deep stacks we received in years past, we only received a few reports a week.

In the past, there were mountains of reports printed, and later filed

I can recall the file drawers packed with reports, the “yellows” for reporters. When we started reporting from the PFPD in 2007, we would receive reports that were hand-written — which was quite the task when trying to read many different styles of officers’ handwriting.

After some time, these hand-written copies were then scanned into the system, and paper copies destroyed, “Only with the approval of the State following the Illinois Document Retention Act,” Chief Green emphasized.

After the move to Frequentis, the system that was supposed to allow the department and SouthCom to move away from the many stacks of paper, reports were filed electronically, and then printed. These reports would exist on paper for a while, then they would be scanned into the system, and paper copies shredded. Again, as Chief Green emphasized, these documents were shredded “only with the approval of the State following the Illinois Document Retention Act.”

Today, taking full advantage of Spillman, officers now file reports electronically, and these are shared electronically with detectives, as opposed to being printed and taken to detectives, as they were under Frequentis.

Cases that remain unsolved and/or still under investigation can generate many, many pages of reports.

No printing means that more efficiency, and, again, a giant step toward sustainability.

Moving forward, the PFPD will make available to eNews Park Forest a “media report,” which includes report numbers and a general description of police activity/responses to calls. This media report will be beyond what we have received in the past, as many reports are either “unfounded,” or “NFR,” No Report Filed.

This “media report” is practically being tailor-made for eNews Park Forest, Chief Green said, as we are the only news outlet that regularly reports from the PFPD.

Examples of reports may include calls where shots were reported fired, but, when police arrived, they found no evidence of anything like this happening. There are many, many other types of calls for which there are no reports filed.

Keep in mind that in 2016, there were 22,033 calls for service: 18,473 for police, 3,560 for fire, according to records the department keeps, available in the 2017-2018 budget.

From these media report, which we will request weekly, eNews Park Forest will file a Freedom of Informatioin Act (FOIA) request asking for reports from specific case numbers.

Filing a regular FOIA is new for us.

For ENEWSPF, these will include all cases where there was an arrest, and other cases that may be in the public interest. These other cases may include instances when, for example, a report of shots fired, or similar instances, were determined to be unfounded.

Once we have received these printed reports, eNews Park Forest will write a report for the public.

eNews Park Forest understands that any reports that include arrests of juveniles, per Illinois state statute, will no longer be shared with the press. These also include instances where adults are arrested and mentioned in the same reports.

eNews Park Forest will continue to report releases from the PFPD’s Facebook page, including photographs shared on that page.

We look forward to viewing our first media report soon.

Until then, we thank the public for understanding, and we certainly appreciate the continued work of our Park Forest Police and Fire departments.

Yes, we understand that, when thanking the police, one should also thank fire.

That’s just doing right.

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