Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson says the impetus for the adoption of a crime-free rental housing policy Tuesday by the village board came as he and other residents watched police conduct a raid on a suspected drug house on Aug. 29, 2013.
With each suspect being brought out of the house in handcuffs came applause from the dozen or so residents on Warwick Lane.
But Johnson says he'll never forget what one of the neighbors told him.
"What really got to me (was) one gentleman (who) came up to me said, 'You know mayor, I've lived in my house here for 40 years and I've been afraid to walk on my street.' That hit me like very few things have ever hit me before," Johnson said at Tuesday's village board meeting, where trustees unanimously approved the new policy.
"As long as this board is up here, we will never allow anyone to be afraid to walk on the streets here in Elk Grove Village."
The house on Warwick Lane is a rental property -- one of hundreds that will be inspected as mandated by the new rules, which go into effect Oct. 1. All rental property owners in Elk Grove will also be required to attend training sessions to learn crime prevention tips and how to conduct background checks on prospective tenants.
Rented single-family homes will be inspected every year for building code violations, and rented apartments, condos and townhouses will be inspected every two to three years. Property owners will pay an annual licensing fee of $50 per apartment, and $100 per condo, townhouse or single-family home.
The village will hire a housing maintenance inspector and police crime prevention officer to coordinate the program.
Johnson said situations like last year's drug raid, as well as similar nuisance and crime problems at rental properties, could be avoided in the future as a result of the new policy.
But the owner of the property on Warwick said trustees "rammed this through," while also taking exception with the way police handled the August drug bust because it caused $8,000 worth of damage from "concussion bombs" that were thrown and windows that were broken to gain entry to the house.
"Was it necessary to throw bombs for a drug bust for 3 grams of cocaine?" said Gerald Aleksy, who told the village board he never had any other problems during 40 years as a landlord. "If there was a problem with my property, why couldn't someone from the police department at least inform me in advance? Do they think I was in on the drug sale?"
"I would like to know why you didn't know people were selling drugs in your house," Johnson responded. "By having this program, we would have a better chance of finding that out before it got that far along."
Deputy Police Chief Charles Walsh said police brought in a SWAT team to conduct a raid because they received intelligence there were weapons on the property. Police also received threats to their lives, Walsh said.
"It's a dangerous situation that we don't want in this community," Johnson said. "That's why we're doing what were doing."