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Cook County deputies stepped in after Robbins’ police walked off the job

Mayor Darren Bryant

When Robbins’ police walked off the job and left citizens without protection on Monday, October 4, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and his officers came to the rescue.

Today, most of Robbins’ police officers are back at work and at the negotiating table with Darren Bryant, the young, 29-year-old who made history when he became the youngest Black mayor in Illinois history.

It was Bryant’s first big test as mayor of this small, predominately Black city of 4,629 residents. Last weekend, more than a dozen officers on Robbins’ already small police force resigned or called off work for the foreseeable future, citing overstaffing, safety and pay issues since their contract expired in April 2020. Robbins’ small police force is made up of fewer than 20 people. The police union said a total of two officers were on patrol Tuesday morning with more to follow in the coming shifts.

Rodney Hunter, a former Robbins police officer, told ABC7 Chicago, “I think they made good on their agreement to return back to work, but when I worked here, we were short then and they’re probably short now.” Cook County Sheriff ’s deputies have been stepping in to patrol since Friday, October 1. But, as of the morning of Tuesday, October 5, they are no longer helping out.

According to the union, the village has never sat down with them to negotiate a new contract—until the recent media attention.

“If you put somebody’s nose to the grindstone, you’ll find the money and the things that these officers need. We just need to do it,” Richard Blass, of the Illinois Council of Police, told ABC7 Chicago.

Meanwhile, the union said a tentative agreement has been reached via a 20-minute impromptu meeting with the mayor Monday, October 4. Union representatives and village officials were scheduled to meet Wednesday, October 6, on Zoom to hammer out a deal. “I am hopeful that we can sit down and come to an agreement as far as working conditions, wages and terms and conditions of employment,” Blass said.

Officers were also asking for bulletproof vests since theirs had expired. On Monday, there was an agreement to buy them new ones. “We got the vests. I’d like to see equipment changes. I’d like to see more salary. I’ve got the scale here; I think it’s $11.50 an hour, and you’re asking guys to take on a lot of responsibility for that kind of dough,” Blass said.

In a news conference the same day as the walkout, Mayor Bryant, who took office only six months ago, said that he wants to find solutions to any problems. “I do respect the service that you all do. It takes a special individual to come in here and work on behalf of Robbins,” he said.

A new police chief was also to be sworn in Tuesday night, October 5, and the union said it will approach him with an open mind.

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