Thanks to a majority vote Tuesday by the Naperville City Council, one of six local, laid off police officers will be asked back to the force.
But to counter that recall, one police commander will be eliminated, according to council documents. The council voted 8-1 to call back a Naperville police officer who is said to be an asset to the department. City Councilman Richard Furstenau accounted for the lone "no" vote, after saying he believes it's too soon to be asking officers back.
The layoffs—a cost-cutting move set in stone with a 7-2 vote by the Naperville City Council at a Dec. 7 meeting—included six of the department’s patrol division officers. A seventh vacant position was not filled as part of the city’s decision.
"I am now proposing the elimination of one police commander position and the recall of one of the laid-off police officers," stated City Manager Doug Krieger, in council documents. "I seek this authority now because I am confident that the cost savings are sufficient for recall of one officer and I believe the position is necessary to appropriately staff midnight patrol shifts."
The annual salary for the commander position is about $106,000 and the recalled police officers salary is about $77,100, resulting in an annual savings of about $9,100 after the city pays the retirement incentive of around $19,700, according to council documents.
"I wish the sixth officer was never laid off in the first place," Councilman Grant Wehrli said. " … The sixth officer, happened to be the best officer on the force. … So what this brings to light for me is a flaw in the collective bargaining process that we have with city employees … It should be last in, first out. There are other cops that should have been let go first."
Naperville Police Chief David Dial said he's going to take a hard look at the department and propose an option to Krieger within three weeks. He asked for a lengthy time frame because officers have left their positions due in part to a Jan. 6 limited retirement incentive offered to all sworn personnel.
"In general, this incentive program offered one year of paid healthcare in exchange for an immediate commitment to retire within the next few months," Krieger stated. "This program was offered to serve two purposes. First, to provide cost savings and second, to provide the opportunity to recall the laid-off officers without impacting the deficit reduction savings achieved by their layoff."
Three commanders and one police officer accepted the incentive, council documents stated. Two others left to pursue different law enforcement opportunities, said Vince Clark, president of Naperville Fraternal Order of Police Local 42.
The initial six controversial cuts came less than one week after the city announced that a three-year contract agreement had been reached with the local police union.
Krieger issued a statement at that time saying the 9 percent pay increase included in the contract was too high.
Tamara Cummings, the union's attorney, filed the complaint on behalf of the union because she believes the city bargained "in bad faith" by agreeing to a labor contract that city representatives have said the city can't afford. That argument will be addressed during an .
"The citizens of Naperville are the ones who benefit in the long run, although the staffing levels are still well below the level they should be," Clark said Tuesday in a written statement in response to the recall.
"The Naperville Fraternal Order of Police thinks this is a step in the right direction … The council reduced the manpower ordinance to a number they felt was safe for the taxpayers, now they have an obligation to maintain it."