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posted: 4/7/2011 12:01 AM

Prospect Hts. police high on mayor's list

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  • On election night, Nicholas "Nick" Helmer thanks his supporters.

      On election night, Nicholas "Nick" Helmer thanks his supporters.
    Bill Zars | Staff Photographer


Crime is up in Prospect Heights, and more police officers are needed, Mayor-elect Nicholas "Nick" Helmer said Wednesday. He will be sworn in next month.

The contract with the police unions expired two years ago, Helmer said. Six officers were laid off in November after an arbitrator sided with the unions' grievance that furloughs were not allowed by the contracts. All city employees are furloughed 30 days a year because of financial problems.

"I want to meet with the union about reopening negotiations about the laid off police and the long-expired contract," he said. It is important to involve the police chief and police commission, too, Helmer added.

Chief Jamie Dunne, who took the job in February, has proposed hiring part-time officers to temporarily relieve some of the stress on current officers. The city has 16 sworn officers.

"I want to review that with him," said Helmer. "It may be a great plan, but I've only been mayor elect for 12 hours now."

He said he has not spent much time with Dunne, but his resume shows he is very qualified, and "officers I have talked with on the streets agree he can do the job."

Some crimes are up when the period since November is compared with the same time a year earlier, he said.

"Most everyone would agree we don't have enough police on the street," Helmer said. "It becomes a real problem if they're taking a vacation or taking a sick day, whatever it is."