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updated: 10/17/2011 9:57 PM

Deer Park terminating agreement with Kildeer police

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The Deer Park village board Monday night voted unanimously to terminate the village's contract for police services with Kildeer as of Nov. 15, and approved a new contract with Lake County for police protection through the sheriff's office.

The decision means eight of Kildeer's 14 full-time patrol officers will lose their jobs.

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The Lake County Board must also approve the agreement for police protection with Deer Park before it can go into effect. That decision will likely come at the county board's Nov. 8 meeting, Deer Park Village Attorney James Bateman said.

"We will not be without police coverage if Kildeer decides that they do not want to continue serving us tomorrow," Deer Park Trustee James Denny said. "We have a backup plan in place. There will be no gap in coverage under any scenario."

Kildeer Police Chief Louis Rossi said earlier Monday night that his officers will continue to serve Deer Park.

"We will continue to serve your community like we serve our community with pride, dignity and commitment," Rossi said. "I will do everything possible to make the transition as smooth as possible. We will be there for you until the very last second."

Several Deer Park residents questioned what the change to Lake County sheriff's police protection would mean in terms of response times, patrol and community policing.

Resident Roger Hankin said the village needs to conduct a couple of public meetings to communicate such information to residents.

"I have been an outspoken critic of the value of the current (police) contract," he said. "There's a host of questions that pour out of this. Will the same set of officers be in place? Where will 911 calls be handled?"

Bateman said 911 calls will continue to go through the Lake Zurich Fire Protection District and be routed to the sheriff's dispatch for handling.

Many residents learned of the proposed vote on a new police contract with Lake County from the village board's meeting agenda.

Former Deer Park Trustee Maureen Pratscher said she's concerned about the agreement with Lake County and about the village board's "lack of openness and transparency" throughout the process.

"Police service constitutes the lion's share of the village budget and it is also the one line item that directly impacts the safety and well-being of each and every resident," she said. "Given this importance, shouldn't residents have been made more aware of the changes that were being contemplated and given a chance to ask questions or voice their concerns prior to the night the board is scheduled to vote on the new contract?"

In a letter to the Kildeer village board and administration Monday, Deer Park Village President Robert Kellermann said Kildeer police will no longer protect and serve his village's residents and businesses as of Nov. 15.

Kellermann said in the letter Deer Park will be contracting with another law enforcement agency for services, though he did not name the department.

"This is not an easy meeting for anybody," Kellermann said Monday night. "This village takes public safety very serious. We are trying to give the best police protection. Kildeer has done very well for us. We've had a long, good working relationship with the village of Kildeer, and I don't think it will be compromised."

Deer Park reached out to other agencies, including Palatine, Lake Zurich and Barrington, to possibly establish a three-year deal for police protection. Palatine and Barrington declined Deer Park's request, while Lake Zurich has said it would consider it.

The Lake County sheriff's office earlier refused to comment.

Deer Park at one point was policed by Lake County sheriff's deputies. When the Deer Park Town Center on Rand Road opened more than a decade ago, village officials sought an agency whose home base was closer and settled on Kildeer.

In his letter, Kellermann cited inaction by Kildeer officials to a May 4 request for changes in police services and costs as one of the reasons for terminating the contract.

Deer Park's analysis of police protection provided by Kildeer shows that it's not quite up to the 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week coverage promised by contract, Kellermann's letter states.

The current contract between the two villages expires on April 30, 2013. Deer Park is in the fourth year of its second contract with Kildeer and was expected to pay about $1.45 million for police service this year.

The eight Kildeer officers who serve Deer Park received 30-day layoff notices over summer, though they were rescinded later.

Rossi said Monday night he has been prepared for months to answer questions about the police service his officers have provided to Deer Park residents.

He added, he is responsible for the current situation since it happened on his watch.

Rossi has been police chief for more than a year.

"I take total responsibility for any actions of my officers," Rossi said.

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