Prospect Hts. lays off 6 police officers

Updated 11/7/2010 9:20 PM

Prospect Heights has a leaner police force.

Mayor Dolly Vole said Sunday that six of the city's 21 police officers have been laid off.

She said a reduction in force resolution is on the agenda of tonight's city council meeting, but the layoffs do not require a vote since "we have to follow (an) arbitrator's decision. It's just like a court order."

The city used furloughs to avoid layoffs. But after the furloughs began, the Metropolitan Alliance of Police, the union representing the officers, filed a grievance saying the city doesn't have the right to mandate furloughs. The arbitrator ruled on MAP's behalf, stating the furloughs must stop and waiving the 90-day notice for layoffs.

Vole said there will now be fewer officers out on the street to serve and protect residents, but since revenues are down and the voters rejected a police protection tax, the cuts were unavoidable.

She said the city leaders plan to discuss another police protection tax proposal.

Alderman John Styler said he learned of the layoffs from the newspaper, rather than the mayor.

"She runs a one-man show, as far as I'm concerned. She never called anybody that I know of to let them know that she had decided to go forth with Sunday," he said. "I think it's a bad plan. I think we should have had more communication with the union people on this."

Among the problems the layoffs will cause, Styler said they'll be forced to use the drug enforcement officer for routine street patrol.

Alderman Gerald Anderson said when the city established the police force in 1990, the chief stated the city could function with 18 sworn officers. It now has 15.

"It is something that our citizenry is going to have to finally cope with one way or the other," Anderson said.