Misleading comments made by Trustee Terry Vorderer (District 4) arguing that the privatized dispatching employees of Norcomm were receiving the same training as the prior village employees is undermining the former police officer’s credibility which is often used to support the administration’s position on matters of public safety.
On November 25, 2014, Vorderer spoke at a Village Board Meeting referring to his time as an Oak Lawn Police Officer and stated that the previous unionized dispatchers did not have 8 to 9 months of training as alleged in a letter by former 911 Dispatcher Staci Serapin. She had written a letter to all the village officials detailing mistakes being made on a daily basis by the 911 dispatchers. Serapin, who later was interviewed in an exclusive story for the Oak Lawn Leaf, stated that under the previous administration dispatchers were trained for six to nine months depending on their progression.
Serapin and other former dispatchers have called the difference of training between the unionized employees and the privatized dispatchers “gigantic.” Trustee Carol Quinlan (District 5) raised the issue of Serapin’s letter at the Village Board Meeting calling the allegations of the lack of training “scary.” Serapin detailed for the Oak Lawn Leaf that dispatchers under Norcomm are not given the same level of training.
Mayor Sandra Bury had dismissed the letter as “anonymous” when Quinlan raised the issue asking if Quinlan had checked Norcomm’s website. Vorderer, however, was even more adamant and reminded people that he was employed at the village for many years as a police officer, rising to the level of Chief of Patrols. “Bob, 8 or 9 months of training,” Vorderer stated. He then said, ” I was here I never saw 8 or 9 months of training.” Serapin and two other dispatchers have told the Oak Lawn Leaf that the outsourcing left only five experienced employees available to train the new hires. They said that the plan was doomed to fail from the beginning.
According to one of the dispatchers, the typical training of the village employees prior to the outsourcing would begin with dispatchers only “taking calls” and not dispatching police or fire calls for one or two months. The trainee, under the old system, would work directly with the trainer and would not move on to the next phase until mastering the “call taking”portion of training. After advancing from call taking, the new trainees would begin dispatching police calls and then finally the fire calls. The whole process took six to nine months and Daily Observation Reports were made by a trainer who sat with the trainee. This procedure changed, according to the dispatchers, under Norcomm.
It isn’t the first time that Vorderer has used his experience as a police officer to argue in support of an administration issue or to quell public opposition to an issue. Vorderer was elected as an independent Trustee but has voted in lock step with Mayor Sandra Bury and her allies. Over one year ago, Bury and the Village Board voted 4-2 to fire 20 unionized village dispatchers and contracted with Norcomm to provide emergency dispatch services. Vorderer, to the surprise of many dispatchers, firemen and police officers, supported the firing and the privatization of services.
The Oak Lawn Leaf has detailed numerous stories of mistakes made by the new dispatchers during the last ten months. Bury and her allies, including Vorderer, have refused to investigate complaints with Trustee Alex Olejniczak (District 2) calling the complaints just “concerns.” Trustee Robert Streit (District 3) who voted against privatizing the service has called the decision “the worst decision the village board has ever made.”
Streit said he didn’t know if Vorderer was using his police background to cover up the mistakes or whether he didn’t know about the training. “It is possible that Terry didn’t know about the difference in training but said there was no difference in any case,” said Streit. He said that he is disappointed in Vorderer’s position because as a former police officer he should know how critical it is to get accurate information from the dispatchers to the first responders.
We contacted Trustee Vorderer for comment but did not receive a response.