Police chief vows to stay despite no-confidence vote

A bouquet of flowers sit in a vase on the desk of Western Springs Police Chief Pamela Church, a show of support from area police chiefs.

It is a constant reminder of the backing she has gotten since officers and sergeants in her own department issues a vote of no confidence in her abilities and the abilities of Deputy Chief Brian Budds.

“It was sad and it was hurtful that members of the department went to a (village) board meeting and my integrity and my abilities were questioned,” Church said in an interview this week.

At that Feb. 9 meeting, Ray Violetto, a representative of the Metropolitan Alliance of Police, the labor union that represents the village’s patrol officers and sergeants, advised village officials of the no-confidence vote regarding Church and Budds.

“It is without question that our department has been misrepresented throughout the village we serve and protect,” Violetto said. “Under her leadership our department is routinely questioned and our integrity is under the suspicion of incompetence among the surround law enforcement agencies.”

Church said her move to have officers on eight-hour shifts as of April 5 from their current 12-hour shifts is part of the contention in the department.

Along with the backing of local chiefs in the aftermath of the public attack, Church said she has the full support of officials.

“I am not going anywhere,” said Church, who has been at the helm of the Western Springs department for nine years. “I have the full support of the Village Board and the village administration.

“I am very happy here and plan to be here for years to come.”

Village Manager Patrick Higgins said that he found “it most unfortunate that an otherwise outstanding group of employees could be manipulated by union officials and others into taking such action.

“It is even more disconcerting that this trite and meaningless action apparently involves former employees who are no longer part of the organization and have no stake in the scheduling issue.”

Church said the eight-hour shifts are required as the village’s police force works to combine efforts with La Grange and LaGrange Park.

“Since her initial appointment the department has deteriorated in terms of morale, camaraderie and vision,” Violetto said.

“Morale waxes and wanes depending on the issue,” Church said. “It would be nice if we got the contracts (for the two MAP unions) settled, but that is not guaranteed to make everyone happy. You usually have someone not happy with something in a contract.”

Kevin Beese is a freelance reporter for Pioneer Press