It is only natural for residents to want to feel safe in their own communities. But the reality is that crimes can happen anywhere, anytime.
Enter the Tinley Park Police Department’s latest installment of Coffee with a Cop, an initiative that aims to foster positive relationships between law enforcement officials and community members.
On the morning of July 22, police stopped by Cavallini’s in the Park to chat with residents. By hosting the event at the popular Tinley Park breakfast spot, police hoped the casual, family-friendly space would allow patrons to feel more comfortable and start a conversation with them.
Police Chief Steve Neubauer said Coffee with a Cop is an opportunity for residents to meet their local officers face to face and have their questions answered.
To mark the two-hour event, the police department parked a squad car in front of Cavallini’s with a banner promoting it.
Neubauer said it is important to keep the lines of communication open with the public, so residents know they can approach police officers, especially when they feel unsafe.
“We have hundreds of miles of side streets and residences and everything like that, and our guys going down the side street can’t see a guy with a crowbar in a backyard breaking into somebody’s shed or house or garage,” he said. “We count on the neighbors to say, ‘Hey, there’s a car here that looks suspicious. There’s a person in a backyard with a crowbar.’ We count on them to call right away.”
At a recent Village Board meeting, residents voiced concerns to the police department when it came to relaying information about the shooting, which took place the early morning of July 18 at the 6900 block of West 173rd Place.
According to The Junction’s previous reports, the shooting stemmed from a traffic altercation, which resulted in one injury. Thirty-eight-year-old Andres Rodriguez, 38, of Tinley Park, was charged with one count of attempted murder.
That incident was reason enough for Jan Berry to swing by Cavallini’s for Coffee with a Cop.
“[Neubauer] was very reassuring,” Berry said, after she spoke to him about the shooting. “[I have] the fears the people in the neighborhood have. We’re very concerned, and we just don’t want this guy to come back.”
In that particular case, Neubauer noted the police department took the correct course of action in dispersing information to residents.
“We did not put a community alert out,” Neubauer said. “And this is why: it was 2 o’clock in the morning. We had the offender in custody in minutes, and we clearly identified there was just two people involved that there was nobody roaming through the neighborhood. There [were] no manhunts, so there was no safety issue with the neighbors.”
“The victim was tended to and on his way to the hospital. [The] suspect was in custody, and the guns were recovered.”
While updating of social media, sending community alerts via phone or posting them on the Village website or hosting events like Coffee with a Cop do open the lines of communication between police officers and community members, Neubauer said his department enters a gray area when his officers are in a middle of an investigation.
“We wouldn’t put out information that would compromise an investigation,” he explained. “I think that’s what happens with social media is that sometimes false information or skewed information or rumored information gets out, and that’s not good.”
At that point, he said, the police department is only concerned with two things: keeping his residents safe from harm’s way and making sure everyone is informed with the facts.
“We never put out information we can’t verify 100 percent,” he said. “Sometimes that takes time. On social media, they can put out whatever they want, and that’s what the problem is. People [question] why didn’t [we] put anything out. Because frankly, we didn’t know what the right answer was. You don’t put it out if you don’t have the right answer.”
Here are a few ways you can stay informed about your neighborhood.
Sign up for CodeRED
• CodeRED, a community notification system, sends any type of news, including road closures, schedule changes for trash collection and missing child reports. Tinley Park residents can also choose how they can receive this information (i.e. landline, cell phone, email, text message and more). For more information, visit the Village of Tinley Park website at www.tinleypark.org.
• Village Board or committee meetings, events and more are regularly announced on the Village of Tinley Park’s website, Facebook or Twitter.