Over the last several weeks, the Village Board and I have received a number of thoughtful written messages from you, our concerned neighbors, in response to the local and nationwide calls for social justice reform and in response to social unrest across our nation. As Mayor, I want you to know we hear you- we hear your questions and your concerns and, we’re listening. Please know the Village Board and I greatly appreciate all of who have taken the time to share your personal feelings, stories, as well as ideas on how we should continue to move forward as a Village. We know that we are all in this together.
One of the long-standing core values of our Village is diversity, and it continues to be one our defining strengths - and, one we continue to work on and one that needs our greater attention. To demonstrate our continued commitment to our Village’s core values, the Village Board and I will be reviewing the following action items over the coming weeks, months and beyond:
- Creation of a Village Board Resolution celebrating the diversity of our community and affirming our village’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion – within all of our initiatives and as our priority.
- The Village Board and I will discuss creating a Village Diversity Task Force/Commission or a permanent Community Relations Advisory Board whose mission would include, but not be limited to:
(i) helping our Village deepen our understanding of diversity, equity, and inclusion, for all - including our youth!
(ii) facilitating community conversations around issues of race, cultural awareness, and social justice, and
(iii) advising the Village Board on developing programs, policies, and initiatives to bring about lasting improvements/changes to our Village -- for our future.
- Exploring Village investments in memberships to national organizations who help cities across the nation develop leading policies, practices, and programs in the area of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
- Under the leadership of Chief Brian Cunningham, our Police Department regularly reviews and trains on our law enforcement policies and procedures. Part of this ongoing practice includes contracting with a nationally recognized firm to ensure that our policies are: a) continually evaluated and trained on, b) consistent with federal, state, and local laws, c) reflect nationally recognized standards and best practices. Since the tragic death of George Floyd, our Police Department undertook an immediate, complete policy review. From that review, Chief Cunningham is reviewing some recommended amendments to our policies that he will be reviewing with the Village Board and myself.
- Also, beginning later this month, our Police Department will be holding weekly “Lunch Time Conversations” with the public via the Zoom web platform. This virtual community outreach effort will be designed to facilitate meaningful community conversations and engagement around law enforcement topics, such as community policing, Woodridge Police Department arrest policies and procedures, and social justice reform topics.
- The Village will also be exploring additional opportunities to further enhancement of our Police Department’s transparency with the public. The Department is in the process of creating a new webpage that will have our law enforcement policies and practices posted on our Village’s website for public viewing.
The Village Board and I will be reviewing, discussing and creating other initiatives as well, but I thought it was important to share with you what action steps we are already working on.
In closing, I would like to make special mention to our residents and businesses for the outpouring of support and kindness that you have demonstrated to our Police Officers. Over the last several weeks in particular, our Police Department has received numerous letters, e-mails, phone calls, and walk-in visitors who have specifically took the time to convey their appreciation for our Police Officers’/Police Department’s professionalism and dedication to protecting life, property, and free speech in the Village of Woodridge. Thank you again so much for your kindness and support of our Police Officers- it means so much to all of us!
Please take good care. Be safe and continue following the Governor’s Executive Orders and Recommendations. Please wear a mask when you are out in public; follow safe social distancing guidelines and stay 6 feet apart, wash your hands throughout the day, and, if you are not feeling well, please stay home. Thank you so much. We’re all in this together!
Mayor Gina Cunningham