Robbins mayor and union sign deal seven months after police quit – Chicago Tribune

When he was taking math and marketing classes at Dunbar High School, David Sheppard had no idea that decades later he would one day be a part of history.

Sheppard has served as Robbins’ police chief since October and in his early days he had to try to clean up the mess of a staff of 14 who were off work for three days due to low pay and health issues. security.

On Thursday, Sheppard, Robbins Mayor Darren Bryant and Illinois Police Council Union Representative Richard Blass were all smiles as Bryant and Blass signed a four-year contract with hefty raises and new equipment for the safety of agents.

“Today is making historic unity and winning for the citizens,” Bryant said. “We are providing more resources and compensation to our officers and our officers will provide more skills to our citizens.”

“This is a historic and emotional day for us,” Sheppard said.

The first element of the contract is remuneration.

Base pay for police officers will increase from $11.50 to $17.25 per hour over the term of the contract. Officials agree that’s lower than many neighboring communities, but say it’s a good first step.

“We still have work to do,” Bryant said.

Other elements of the new contract include:

• Purchase of 28 new body cameras, three years ahead of the 2025 deadline set by the State.

• Acquisition of 28 new Tasers. Sheppard said this was done to equip officers with the latest and greatest less-than-lethal alternatives when needed.

• Provision of two virtual reality training units. This was done to provide officers with the latest technology to better train them for situational events, according to Sheppard.

• Purchase of 21 new bulletproof vests for current and/or newly hired officers. The administration will continue to purchase and supply each officer with a new vest as needed before they go to work on the streets, the chief said.

• Installation of eight license plate reading cameras in the village. Because of these cameras’ sharing capabilities with other agencies, Robbins will have access to more than 459 license plate reader cameras statewide, Shepard said.

• Purchase of 15 mobile phones used by detectives and specialized units and mobile access points.

Where does the money for all this come from?

This is where Sheppard’s classes in high school paid off as his interest in numbers started there and he was able to analyze the budget and make changes.

“I haven’t exceeded my limits, but I have adjusted the money appropriately to where it should be, which is in the hands of the officers who work for us to defend, fight and protect us,” he said. Sheppard said.

He said he took a deep dive into the budget and said the previous administration had allocations that could be eliminated.

“There was waste,” he said. “There were things and projects that we cut that we can do in the future that will be funded through grants and stuff.”

Bryant said the village had spent more than $80,000 on overtime due to the lack of crew and that would be rolled into the new pay structure.

On October 2, members of the force came out to protest low pay and lack of resources. Cook County Sheriff’s Police patrolled the area, as did Sheppard, who was hired but wasn’t officially sworn in until Oct. 5.

“Since 2019, we’ve been asking the village to sit down and talk with us,” Blass said at the time. “We believe the officers are underpaid.”

They returned on the morning of October 5.

Six months later, Blass was satisfied with the relationship with Bryant and the village.

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“I was cautiously optimistic that we were going to be able to come to an agreement that we were happy with on hours, wages and terms of employment,” Blass said Thursday. “It’s truly groundbreaking for the Village of Robbins on what we’ve accomplished. We have a contract that protects citizens and also protects officers.

Bryant said a year and a half into that contract, he wants to start working on the next deal so officers don’t work out of contract like they did in 2021 and parts of 2020 and 2022.

Police Sergeant. Ahmad Boyd, now part of a 26-strong force, is pleased with the progress,

“I think it’s a good thing for the police department and the officers in Robbins Village,” Boyd said. “Officers have long expected to receive comparable compensation for the service they render and the things with which we serve the people in terms of our diligence, dedication and tactics.”

Bryant, who signed the contract a year and a day after becoming mayor, said he admires members of the force who have remained loyal or recently joined under difficult circumstances.

“To be a public servant in Robbins, you have to be special,” the mayor said.

Jeff Vorva is a freelance writer for the Daily Southtown.

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