NAPERVILLE, Ill. (STMW) – While a dark and potentially brutal midwinter blizzard looms for west suburban Naperville, the employment forecast appears to have brightened a bit for six city police officers who lost their jobs last fall.
At least four and perhaps as many as eight Naperville Police Department officers are expected to retire between now and springtime, increasing the possibility that some or all of the laid-off officers might be rehired.
Mayor A. George Pradel and members of the City Council are expected to be briefed on the situation during the executive session portion of Tuesday night’s council meeting. It was not known what action, if any, council members might take on the matter.
City Manager Doug Krieger refused to say whether the topic is to be discussed during Tuesday’s closed session.
“I can confirm that there are four known departures (in the police department) that have been reported to City Hall, and that as of early today, the police command staff began the process of evaluating potential structures in light of those retirements,” Krieger said Monday night by telephone.
When asked if any or all of the laid-off officers might be offered their jobs back, Krieger replied, “That’s absolutely a possibility.”
“But we still have a budget hole to fill, so I don’t want someone speculating and getting the hopes up of the impacted officers,” Krieger said.
The affected officers — four men and two women — included a juvenile crimes officer, a general assignment investigator, a traffic officer and three patrol officers. Their positions were eliminated in November as city officials struggled to balance the municipal budget.
Word of the retirements and possible rehirings followed an announcement that the Illinois Labor Relations Board has granted Naperville Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 42 a hearing on its allegations that city officials engaged in bad-faith bargaining during recent contract negotiations.
The FOP complaint was filed following the layoffs, which city officials said were made in part because they could not afford the pay raises recently given to other members of the force. FOP members maintain the firings were retribution for the pay hikes.
Krieger confirmed the FOP “is getting a hearing (after) submitting a claim of alleged unfair labor practices and wrongdoing on the city’s part.”
“We absolutely deny the allegations,” Krieger said. “The city is preparing its response, and we are looking forward to the hearing.”
The hearing date is not expected to be scheduled for several weeks.