By Charlie Feldman
At the Tuesday, March 9 village board meeting, Illinois State Police Major Derek Wilson presented the results of a SWOT analysis he had recently completed on the Glen Carbon Police Department.
Businesses and other organizations use this strategic planning technique to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats related to competition and project planning.
Wilson said that while he was gathering the information, the department did not know where or when he would appear or whom he would talk to.
Glen Carbon’s police force’s strengths, he said, are its command team and leadership, its community involvement and “very professional” civilian support staff.
Its weaknesses are the lack of diversity in the ranks and rare communications problems where decisions made at the top level did not “funnel all the way down” to the patrol level, he said.
Opportunities that the department could use include recruitment – especially of minorities and women, increasing partnerships with the community and in-service training. Threats, he said, include public sentiment that could change with a negative incident in the news or within the village itself, media misrepresentation (transparency is important), the COVID-19 pandemic and the budget restrictions related to that and recent policing legislation.
“A substantial amount of data was obtained during this review,” Wilson said in conclusion.
“Based on the data,”he said, “it is my opinion that the Glen Carbon police department is highly professional and its officers are dedicated to serving the community. The overwhelming majority of interviews conducted yielded a consistent response of how their number one priority is serving the community of Glen Carbon.
“It was clear to me that the officers understood the value of having a strong working relationship with the community,” Wilson said. “Their actions were consistent with their mission statement, which increased public trust and legitimacy. The officers were able to maintain public order while balancing procedural justice in their daily interactions with the public.
“That tells you right there that they understand that it’s not about arresting people,” he said. “It’s about solving the issues at the lowest level to where they don’t become a problem.”
Eliminating chokeholds and increasing ongoing training are some of the changes that the village police department has made over the past year.
Police Chief Todd Link thanked Wise for his in-depth review and report and said, “My goal for this project was to identify where we are doing well and where we can improve. The truth is we can always do better and we will keep working hard to best serve the needs of our residents and our community,” a press release said.
“In the wake of tragedies within law enforcement over the last few years – especially the killing of George Floyd in Minnesota – I believed I should seek an outside expert in law enforcement to conduct an objective review of our police department in five key areas – operations, training, use of force, community engagement and recruitment,” he said in the press release.