Village board eyes less-restrictive police job interview practices

RANTOUL — Police Chief Tony Brown has asked the village board to loosen the restrictions of who can be interviewed for vacant police positions to better represent the demographics of the community.

Brown told the board at last week’s study session that he is currently able to interview only the top eight candidates who apply. But Brown said he would like to be able to interview “underrepresented members of the community — minorities and female candidates.”

The top eight candidates are currently ranked in a scoring process determined through testing and evaluations.

Brown said the ranking takes in a number of factors, including points for education and points for military background.

A former long-time administrator for the University of Illinois Police Department, Brown said he was able to help achieve a similar interview policy at the U of I, and said it has been successful.

Being required to interview only the top eight candidates for a position was not always a requirement in the Rantoul department. Brown said at one time there was no such restriction.

Asked by trustee Terry Workman if he thinks the change would create animosity from the top-scoring candidates, Brown said, “I don’t really care what they think. We’re trying to hire the best people for the police department. It doesn’t mean that someone who isn’t in the top eight wouldn’t make a better police officer (than one who is ranked higher).”

Trustee Jennifer Fox said she agrees that the village needs to “look at diversity.”

“Our police department doesn’t necessarily match the make-up of our town,” Fox said.

Brown said the change in the interview pool process would be just one tool. He said the village needs to do a better job recruiting diverse candidates.

“The police field is still a white, male-dominated field,” Brown said. “Ninety-five percent of those taking the police test in any community are generally going to be white males.”

Brown’s policy language request will be considered at the village board’s monthly meeting Tuesday night.

Tax levy presented
The board was asked to approve the 2017 tax levy of $1,393,500, which is $62,485 (4.982 percent) higher than 2016. No tax levy hearing, which must take place if the levy is 5 percent or higher than the previous year, will be required.

The tax rate will remain at $1.56 per $100 equalized assessed valuation.

The 2017 library levy will be $532,500, which is $5,831 higher than the previous year, while the retirement levy is set at $$785,000 — $35,000 higher than 2016.

The parks and rec levy of $76,000 is $22,000 higher than last year.

Trustee Rich Medlen said now that the General Assembly has approved a budget, “I would like to ask that going forward we have an open discussion (with local school representatives) about them lowering their levies because lower property taxes is one means of attracting more business and residential growth.

In other business, the board:

— Was asked to approve a $25,000 economic development loan to A House of Flowers, headed by Paula Hopkins. The loan, at 4 percent interest, will be paid back in 10 years and will be for working capital and inventory. The business is located at 113 E. Sangamon Ave.

— Was asked to approve a $34,950 construction engineering agreement with Burns & McDonnell for the Campbell Avenue elevated tank and the coordination, inspection and recommendation to address the paint-peeling issue on the Galaxy Avenue elevated tank. The 1-million Campbell Avenue tank will have the 26 interior stiffener beams replaced by Phoenix Fabricators & Erectors.

— Was asked to approve a resolution of support as a component of the Illinois Enhancement Transportation Program grant application for the downtown streetscape improvements. The program is designed to enhance downtown development as well as to promote alternative transportation options for pedestrian and bicycle travel.

— Was asked to approve an amendment regarding uniforms worn by village employees. Department heads will determine what clothing should be worn by employees, and the village will pay for the uniforms.



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