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Thursday, July 7, 2005 10:31 am

Forward movement

The debate over the long-awaited Police Citizen Review Commission gets another airing next week, when the case is presented before Illinois Labor Relations Board hearing officer William E. Waechter.

The hearing, scheduled to last two days, begins at 9 a.m. Tuesday, July 12.

The city of Springfield and Policemen’s Benevolent and Protective Agency Unit 5 — the union representing most of the Springfield Police Department’s patrol officers — will each call witnesses and present evidence. Later, both parties will receive a transcript of the hearing, which they can use to craft position statements. Waechter will review the statements before rendering his ruling.

But Michael Provines, the ILRB investigator assigned to the case, doesn’t expect the process to end there.

“Personally, I would expect that no matter how the hearing officer decides, an appeal would occur. But I could be wrong,” he says.

An appeal would trigger a hearing before the full ILRB, whose decision could then go to the appellate court.

“If the parties are really strong about their positions, it could take awhile,” Provines says.

But Ward 2 Ald. Frank McNeil, who first proposed a citizen review board more than a decade ago, says he sees no point in waiting any longer.

“It’s unfortunate that a department as troubled as SPD has been is like, ‘We don’t want anybody to know what our dirty secrets are,’ ” McNeil says. “The police union is determined not to let this happen. And now I’m determined that the mayor’s got to appoint the people and let them start working, because this is dilatory in my opinion, to take the process to its fullest extent and make sure it doesn’t get implemented.”

PBPA president Bob Markovic could not be reached for comment.

The City Council passed an ordinance in February establishing the PCRC. The PBPA responded by immediately filing a complaint with the labor board, claiming the matter should have been a topic of bargaining.

The hearing will be held at 320 W. Washington St., Suite 500, and is open to the public.

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