Above, longtime Highland Park Police Chief Paul Shafer issues an open letter. – Highland Park P.D.
July 18, 2016
An Open Letter to the Highland Park Community:
The recent national incidents involving law enforcement have shaken the foundation of the policing profession nationwide. These events have brought forth questions about police departments, training, policies and procedures. The Highland Park Police Department has received countless expressions of support from residents. My team and I thank you for this support and believe that this is an appropriate time to speak about the Highland Park Police Department and its officers.
The most critical service a city provides is public safety. – Police Chief Paul Shafer
I have been police chief for 13 years and have 37 years of law enforcement experience. I have a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in related fields of study in addition to many executive level training courses. As chief, I strongly believe that a police department is a reflection of its community. In Highland Park, we serve a diverse citizenry who demand professional police services. It is our obligation to provide those services in the most responsible and effective manner.
The most critical service a city provides is public safety. The Highland Park Police Department consistently meets and exceeds national standards and has been nationally accredited by the Commission for the Accreditation of Law Enforcement (CALEA) since 2005. Our police officers are well trained, equipped and supported by the community. But one of the most important elements of policing is having community trust. Public safety hinges on public trust, which starts with treating citizens fairly in a consistent, constitutional and compassionate manner.
Our officers are trained to make sound, split second decisions in critical situations. They have the upmost respect for the sanctity of life; every life.
It is through partnership and collaboration with its citizens that police departments develop the necessary trust to fulfill obligations. The Highland Park Police Department strives to build strong community relationships. We work closely with the mayor, city council and staff. In addition, we advise city commissions such as the Ravinia Festival Commission and the Traffic Commission. We are active members in the Wolters Field Advisory Group and the Highland Park High School Advisory Group. Members of the police department attend neighborhood meetings, coordinate the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), host an annual Citizen’s Police Academy and participate in important community efforts such as the Community The Anti- Drug (CTAD) Coalition. We also have a very strong and active relationship with our schools through our resource officers as well as senior staff.
But this is not enough. The key ingredient to building relationships that establish public trust are the actions of individual police officers. Our officers are trained to make sound, split second decisions in critical situations. They have the upmost respect for the sanctity of life; every life. They possess the moral ethics, integrity, skills and ability to make appropriate decisions in difficult situations. The structure they work with and training they receive is based upon policies and procedures which follow the best practices in professional law enforcement. Our officers leave home to come to work each day not knowing the possible deadly force they may encounter. Each officer wears a bulletproof vest as a somber reminder of the lurking dangers of their job. I am very proud of the men and women of the Highland Park Police Department.
In closing, I thank the community for your continued trust and understanding of the work we do. The members of the Highland Park Police Department strive to earn your trust every day.
Paul Shafer, Highland Park Chief of Police