Community Relations

Community Relations

In 2016, the Police Department began systematically tracking citizen complaints. Citizen complaints include any allegation of misconduct or improper job performance that, if true, would constitute a violation of department policy or of federal, state or local law. Inquiries about conduct or performance that, if true, would not violate any of the above may be handled informally by a supervisor and are not considered a citizen complaint. Such inquiries generally include clarification regarding policy, procedures or the response to specific incidents by the Police Department. Citizen complaints are investigated by a supervisor and each case is closed with one of the four following dispositions:

Unfounded - When the investigation discloses that the alleged acts did not occur or did not involve department members.

Exonerated - When the investigation discloses that the alleged act occurred but that the act was justified, lawful and/or proper.

Not sustained - When the investigation discloses that there is insufficient evidence to sustain the complaint or fully exonerate the member.

Sustained - When the investigation discloses sufficient evidence to establish that the act occurred and that it constituted misconduct.

The below chart provides citizen complaint data regarding police officer conduct by year:

YearTotal Citizen ComplaintsUnfoundedExoneratedNot SustainedSustained
2019
51400
2018137312
201772500
201643100

In many cases exonerated complaints are found to have originated due to a citizen’s misunderstanding of police authority by law or basic law enforcement procedures. Complaints which are sustained result in discipline and/or additional training. Additionally, citizen complaints may be found to be unsubstantiated but their investigation still result in the discovery of performance-improving steps that can be taken. All citizen complaints are taken seriously.

The Police Department has engaged in community outreach via social media since 2011 when the Park Forest Police Facebook page was created. While on-line engagement will never replace face-to-face interaction between a law enforcement agency and the community it serves, social media allows for exponential reach, which becomes vital for public education, crime prevention, community notifications and crime alerts, obtaining public assistance in identifying offenders, and general public relations. The following chart shows the Police Department’s continued increasing reach via social media:


FacebookTwitterInstagram

# of followers# of followers# of followers
March 202016,4003,0004,000
March 201912,3002,3003,600
March 201810,7001,8003,300
March 20178.5007502,300
March 20163,500300100
March 20152,000


The Police Department also has footprints on NextDoor, LinkedIn, Vimeo, and YouTube, and is continually evaluating its social media strategies. In spring of 2018 the Police Department transitioned from one personnel managing all Police Department social media accounts to a social media team being formed to handle social media outreach. Significant social media outreach in 2019 included a video introducing the body-worn camera program to the public in February of 2019 (5,300 views), a video highlighting the de-escalation of an armed subject (redacted) in mental health crisis in April of 2019 (16,00 views), a video call for mail for injured Officer Tim Jones in April of 2019 (86,000 views), a back-to-school safe driving campaign in August of 2019 (4,500 views), the focus of which was an interview-style video of school children, and a humorous but educational video explaining the new laws pertaining to the legalization of recreational cannabis in early 2020 (42,000 views). Multiple posts on Facebook received over 25,000 views, several over 100,000, and the highest reaching post reached over 640,000 people.