Patti Oksanen, one of the recent armed robbery victims in Oak Lawn attended a recent meeting and told her terrifying story of being victimized two times first in a home invasion and the second time as an armed robbery victim on a street near Covington School.
Oksanen talked how in 2015, she returned home to find her dog barking. She found the back door had been knocked off its hinges and objects and had been moved to form a barricade in front of it. She was able to escape from the house and called 9-1-1.
Oksanen said that she believes the privatization of the 911 Dispatch Center caused the delay in responding to her call.
I believe that had we not had outsourced 9-1-1 operators, the time response to my home invader would have been better. And perhaps this monster could have been caught.
“I was the lucky one,” Oksanen said. “Less than one week later, two blocks away… another woman was not. A male subject broke into her home, pretty much the same way he’d broken into mine. He violated her and he attempted to kill her.”Mayor Sandra Bury asked Diana Tousignant, the Director of the Oak Lawn Dispatch Center, to speak. Tousignant headed to the podium and immediately questioned Oksanen first claimed that the 911 Dispatch Center was not “outsourced” and was consolidated.
The current Mayor Sandra Bury and a majority of the Trustees voted to fire 20 experienced unionized 911 dispatchers almost immediately after taking office. Bury and the Trustees then issued a no bid contract to a campaign contributor, Norcomm Public Safety Communications.
Despite that fact, Tousignant stated that the center was not “outsourced” instead talking about the issue of consolidation. Several times she asked the victim questions about her complaint, with the responses occurring off microphone, and then insisted, “that has nothing to do with the 911 system”.
She also said, “it has nothing to do with being outsourced”. Tousignant also claimed “nothing has changed we are still providing the same services to you prior to the dispatchers coming in from Norcomm”.
In fact, hundreds of complaints have been filed about the privatized crew. Sources within the police and fire department confirmed that the officers on the front lines have been told to “stop filing complaints”.
In the past, Mayor Sandra Bury, Trustees Michael Carberry, Terry Vorderer, Alex Olejniczak, and Tim Desmond have all defended the service provided by Norcomm. Desmond, in particular, has repeatedly refused to acknowledged the privatization even though he voted for it.
Tousignant said that residents are still getting the same service. She said she wanted to “educate anyone listening that when dial 9-1-1 just because you get different people doesn’t mean we are answering it in another part of the state…”
She discounted the victim’s opinion stating that when you call 9-1-1 they do a good job and they get services to you right away. She said if the response time was long then that is a police issue.
Village Manager Larry Deetjen also talked about where the calls are received saying that centralized dispatching is a good thing. Oksanen wasn’t complaining about centralization but rather blaming the privatization and the service she received.
Oak Lawn Police Chief Michael Murray also spoke on the issue. Murray did express the willingness to sit down with Oksanen saying he wasn’t familiar with the incident from 2015.
He also spoke about Oksanen’s more recent victimization when she was robbed at gun point near Covington School. Murray said that the police have increased patrols in that area in the hope of catching the person responsible. He also said that the police are “covering as best they can”.
Oksanen had praised the work of the police department and Murray said he appreciated the comments.
Trustee Terry Vorderer then chose to respond saying that he was a former police officer and that there has always been crime in the Village of Oak Lawn. He said he responded to liquor store robberies and gas station robberies. “Unfortunately crime occurs. Has there been a little bit of an increase in high profile crimes in the last couple of weeks, yes…” The admission seemed to contradict his own campaign literature that claims crime is down by 25 percent.
Later, various Trustees, the Mayor and Police Chief reacted to political literature suggesting that there should be more police patrols in the neighborhood. That idea was first floated by Trustee Robert Streit two years ago and was quickly dismissed by Mayor Sandra Bury and her Trustees. However, at the meeting, several Trustees claimed that they had never heard the idea before.
Vorderer said that the board is actively responding to the crime problem while also blaming political opponents for making crime an issue.
Trustee Robert Streit attempted to respond several times to what appeared to him to be a political response rather than a governmental response. At one point he noted that others were talking about political literature and not responding to the victim’s issues.
Yesterday, one week after the address by Oksanen, one of Mayor Bury’s facebook pages decided to attack Oksanen calling her story exaggerated and claiming her speech was political. The page referred to a post on Oksanen’s Facebook page, which we could not find, that talked about the need to replace Bury and her allies on the board.