Oak Park Police are launching a new initiative to enhance and strengthen the popular Resident Beat Officer (RBO) program by expanding the pool of potential candidates beyond just residents.
Called the Neighborhood Resource Officer Program, this new initiative will ensure citizens in each of the Village’s eight designated policing zones always will have an officer assigned to address community livability issues within their specific beats.
When the RBO program was created more than two decades ago, RBO candidates were required not only to reside in the Village, but live within the geographic area they would serve.
This requirement was not an issue in the early days of the program when most Oak Park police officers were residents.
Today, the majority of Oak Park police officers live outside the community, which significantly limits the number of officers eligible to apply to be RBOs. Three vacancies exist currently in the RBO program.
As officers have transitioned out of the RBO program due to promotion and reassignment, positions have become increasingly difficult to fill within the program’s strict residency requirements.
The goal of the new program, police say, is to offer any officer on the force an opportunity to apply to be assigned to one of the eight neighborhood zones when vacancies arise.
Officers who live in Oak Park will, of course, be urged to apply under the existing requirements of the RBO program. And those RBOs already on the job will continue to serve their neighborhoods.
Officials view the new program as a necessary evolution of the basic RBO concept that will make sure no zone is without an assigned officer just because of the residency requirement.
Neighborhood Resource Officers, or NROs, will perform the essential duties of RBOs. Working directly with members of the community, they will develop problem-solving policing solutions, monitor crime trends and engage in community outreach efforts such as community meetings.
Recruitment of candidates for the open policing zones already is underway, as police officials move quickly to fill vacancies and prepare for future staffing needs.
To get to know your RBO — or new NRO — visit www.oak-park.us/rbo.
• Work directly with residents to develop policing solutions to neighborhood problems
• Collaborate with patrol officers to monitor and address crime trends
• Host and attending community meetings
• Interact with other police and municipal operations to address neighborhood concerns
• Train in advanced community oriented policing strategies
• Work flexible schedules to address community needs
• Apply department resources to implement effective community oriented policing techniques