The South Holland Citizen Police Academy provides residents and business owners an opportunity to experience the inner workings of the Police Department. This 12-week program is designed to take a proactive approach to engaging residents and to building a stronger relationship between police and the community.
The Citizen Police Academy is taught by South Holland police officers in an interactive classroom setting. Classes cover many areas of public safety, including patrol functions, investigations, traffic enforcement, radio dispatch and records division, use of force, identity theft, SWAT, and the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force. The academy also offers an optional CPR certification.
Some classes engage students in hands-on activities. During the crime scene processing class, instructors teach the technique of dusting for fingerprints and gathering evidence. The firearms and range training class generates excitement as a portable shooting range simulator is used to demonstrate use-of-force training.
Through the use of realistic video scenarios, participants are trained on certain aspects of firearms handling, such as tactical strategies and split second decision-making. This experience opens residents’ eyes to the hard realities of police operational encounters.
During the administration class, students experience the challenges of working at the police station and the dispatch center. There is also a class on police equipment, in which participants examine the Police Department’s fleet, including the mobile command unit, ATV, motorcycle, and the multi-purpose transport vehicle.
Since its inception in 2008, 150 people have completed the Citizen Police Academy.
“The academy is great for our community,” said Officer Kirk Kremski, public education officer and coordinator of the academy. “This is an opportunity to see the community through the lens of the Police Department, with actual experiences. Officers are making a real connection with residents on a personal level. Since the very beginning, these experiences have been rewarding and beneficial for our community.”
Class size is limited to 20 participants who must either reside or operate a business in South Holland. They also must be 18 years of age or older and pass a background check. There is no charge for enrollment.
Registration is now open for the next session of the Citizen Police Academy. Classes take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays from April 8 to June 24 at the South Holland Community Center, 501 E. 170th St. Applications are available 24 hours a day at the Police Department, at 16220 Wausau Ave.
To learn more about the program, contact the South Holland Police Department, (708) 331-3131, option 2.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "Everybody can be great because anybody can serve ... you only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” Dr. King was right. Anybody can serve, and this is exactly what our South Holland students are doing for their community.
Young people are giving back, meaningfully, and building relationships in their community and abroad.
Calvary Academy, a private Christian school located in South Holland, encourages students to connect with the community by scheduling time for local and global mission work. On a local level, students volunteer time at Restoration Ministries Thrift Store and coordinate a toy drive to benefit low-income families. Their global outreach includes such activities as hosting dollar drives to benefit meaningful charitable causes in Africa and Asia.
School District 151’s Coolidge Middle School, located in Phoenix, Ill., maintains several student groups that engage in volunteer service programs and activities. These groups are Coolidge Ladies of Academic Success and Service, Student Council, National Junior Honor Society, and SWAP (Coolidge Students with Academic Pride).
Among their many service projects, Coolidge Ladies of Academic Success and Service give of their time packing food boxes at the Richton Park Food Pantry. Student Council supports health-related causes, such as breast cancer and diabetes awareness. Last year, students made breast cancer ribbons, which were sold to raise money for the National Breast Cancer Foundation, and they sponsored a “Stop Diabetes” campaign.
Coolidge’s National Junior Honor Society students took on community beautification projects, including raking leaves and cleaning property for senior citizens in Phoenix. SWAP helped to feed the homeless at the Harvey Church of Christ.
Students from Calvin Christian School in South Holland served at the “Feed My Starving Children” program and raised $2,500 for needed supplies for Caminito de Jesus (Pathway to Jesus School) in the Dominican Republican, among other volunteer activities.
The National Junior Honor Society students at South Holland School District 150’s McKinley School volunteer their time at the annual “Read It and Sleep” event. They also mentor their younger peers, as well as run a homework help program for fourth- and fifth-grade McKinley students.
Student Council at Christ Our Savior Catholic School in South Holland hosted a “Red Ribbon Week” to raise awareness of drug prevention and anti-bullying. They also conducted a “Warm the Souls” project, collecting hats, scarves, gloves, mittens and socks for Catholic Charities, and held a Thanksgiving food drive.
Seton Academy, a private Catholic high school in South Holland, has a long list of volunteer service activities. Locally, students coordinate a community food drive to benefit the local Catholic Charities Food Pantry. They also host walk-a-thons to benefit cerebral palsy and Special Olympics.
At the global level, Seton Student Council and National Honor Society raised funds in support of victims of the typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.
Students of Thornton High School District 205 (Thornwood, Thornridge and Thornton) provide their helping hands at the Thornton Township Food Pantry, as well as engage in multiple community food drives, including one hosted by the city of Harvey and Restoration Ministries.
District 205 student groups, such as A Few Good Men and the National Honor Society, also read stories to toddlers at the South Holland Kinder Care and work with special needs students during the Special Olympics games.
There are so many more meaningful volunteer service activities that I could list, but I think you get the point. We have good young people in the village of South Holland and the Chicago Southland region. They are doing wonderful things and giving back to the community.
The South Suburban Chorale headlines South Holland’s annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. event, at 10 a.m. Jan. 18 at Covenant United Church of Christ, 1130 E. 154th St. in South Holland. If you’ve never had the privilege to attend a chorale performance, then you are in for a lyrical treat.
The chorale, under the direction of Al Jackson, will again perform at the village’s Dr. King event, delivering their professional renditions of Christian hymns and spirituals including “Abide With Me,” “Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and “Elijah Rock.”
The chorale is more than 125 voices strong and known throughout the Chicago southland region and Northwest Indiana as a premiere ensemble. The organization was founded in the 1960s by Al Kindig and over the years has experienced tremendous growth and notoriety. The chorale has performed with the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra and undertaken several international tours, including in Prague and Austria.
Here’s another treat you should not miss at this year’s Martin Luther King Jr. event. The Rev. Ozzie E. Smith Jr., senior pastor of the host church, Covenant UCC, is the guest speaker. Smith is a religious leader and an accomplished musician. As a saxophonist, percussionist and bass guitarist, Smith uses his unique abilities to deliver spiritual messages of encouragement, hope and peace.
Smith is known for the style in which he delivers his sermons. As the guest speaker for the 2014 musical tribute, he will begin his message with a heart-provoking saxophone performance of Thomas Dorsey’s gospel classic “Precious Lord.” The song, performed every year at South Holland’s event, was the favorite gospel song of the beloved civil rights leader, Dr. King, who asked that it be sung at the rally he led the night before his assassination.
A new element of the annual tribute is the 2014 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Volunteer Service Award. Dr. King once said, “Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve … You don’t have to know the second theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
Mayor Don De Graff, Clerk Sallie Penman, and members of the board of trustees will recognize local schools and school groups that exemplify the character and legacy of Dr. King through their service activities by presenting each with a special plaque. This year, recipients include Calvary Academy’s Student Council; Calvin Christian School; Coolidge Middle School’s National Junior Honor Society, Student Council, Coolidge Ladies of Academic Success & Service, and Coolidge Students with Academic Pride; McKinley Junior High School’s National Junior Honor Society; Seton Academy’s Student Council and National Honor Society; Thornridge High School’s National Honor Society; Thornwood High School; and Thornwood’s A Few Good Men student group.
Also contributing to the event are Jeanne Porter-King from Christ Community Church, Pastor Tom Archer from Thorn Creek Reformed Church, and the Covenant UCC Praise Dancers.
The 2014 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. tribute will wrap up with a reception, featuring music by the Seton Academy Jazz Band. The event and reception are free and open to the public.
South Holland police assumed control of the council room at Village Hall to spread holiday cheer to five local families. A look of pure joy on the faces of children and their parents is just what officers were hoping for on the evening of Dec. 18, as they presented toys and food baskets for less fortunate families.
As parents and children arrived to Village Hall and entered the council room, they were greeted by an assembly of carolers extoling the joy and cheer of the season. Police administrators, officers and support staff sang in unison alongside village officials, including Trustee Larry DeYoung, Deputy Village Administrator Pat Mahon, as well as members of the Emergency Services Disaster Agency, and graduates of the Citizen Police Academy, among others.
At the conclusion of a string of Christmas songs, a special guest appearance by South Holland’s very own Santa delighted the hearts of more then 20 local children. Kids and parents alike relished the opportunity to share their special Christmas wishes with Santa, capturing their memory of this special evening through quick snaps of photos.
After bellies were filled from a buffet of appetizers and desserts and Santa delivered resounding season’s greetings, uniformed officers rounded this special night with a distribution of wrapped toys and baskets filled with a variety of food products donated by South Holland businesses.
This initiative is the creation of members of South Holland Police Department’s PSA team and supported wholeheartedly by the Village Board, administration, and local businesses. Members of the team are Police Chief Greg Baker, Lt. Mike Becka, Sgts. Chris LaReau and Shaun Staples, and Officers Kirk Kremski, Marita Patterson and Robert Williams.
For the South Holland Police Department, hosting this holiday event is more meaningful than giving gifts of toys and foods. The event showed the human side of officers, which oftentimes goes unnoticed by residents.
It is important for parents and children to build a relationship with police. It’s important for residents to see and feel the true heart of these individuals who selflessly serve and protect the community.
At the end of the day, it was more than good will filling the air of the council room. New relationships were formed and some South Holland children become more comfortable, trusting and respectful of police who demonstrated their genuine care for the community.
This holiday season, the South Holland Police Department will serve, protect and be the bearer of glad tidings to local families who could use a bit of cheer. Police Chief Greg Baker, along with other merry-makers of the Police Department, will bless eight South Holland families who have schoolage children.
On the evening of Dec. 7, members of the department will brave the cold weather as they bring back the tradition of caroling in neighborhoods. Joining the carolers' renditions of classic Christmas songs will be South Holland's very own Santa, who will deliver bags of toys and food to needy families.
What was once a mainstay of the winter holiday season, is far less common today, yet the Police Department hopes it will raise the level of attention of their community outreach efforts. Their mission is to make the holiday season more enjoyable in the village of South Holland, especially for a few families who are struggling to make ends meet.
This initiative is a product of the Police Department's PSA Committee. On a quarterly basis, the committee meets with South Holland Public Access staff to develop seasonal service announcements. They exchange ideas, develop scripts, discuss role assignments, and identify film locations.
In the past, the department has developed public service announcements relative to speeding in school zones, scams targeting seniors, and holiday safety tips to protect life and property. The videos are filmed around the community, including at local businesses, homes, the police station, and the cable studio.
The service announcements, which air on local cable channels and can been seen at the South Holland Community Center, police station and village website, have been well received by the community.
This year's project will demonstrate the softer side of police, in addition to a few reminders and tips related to holiday safety. The Public Access team will shadow the police carolers and Santa to capture the experience and share it with the community throughout the month of December. The video will be available on the South Holland's Community Connection Channel beginning the week of Dec. 16.
Local businesses and village staff are joining the Police Department's effort by donating new toys, games, gift cards, and food. Anyone interested in helping the South Holland Police Department extend holiday cheer and love to families in need, please contact police at (708) 331-3131, or drop off your donation to the police station at 16220 Wausau Ave.
The village of South Holland is taking its community-friendly concept to a new level through the use of social media. Members of the Economic Development Commission created a Facebook "fan” page as a way to encourage connections.
Friends of South Holland, as the page is titled on Facebook, serve as an additional tool to tell the community’s story. There’s a lot going on in this town, especially since the implementation of the Vision 2022 plan, and having another way to share community news is a good thing.
EDC members, all of whom are residents that volunteer their time and talent serving their community, created the page and administer it. Stephanie Walters-Jackson, a new member of the commission, takes care of most of the postings, encouraging residents and businesses to “Like” the page.
South Holland is a business-, resident- and customer-friendly community, which is the story that EDC strives to tell through their postings on the Facebook page. They hope to encourage more local shopping, greater participation at community events, and better interaction among community stakeholders.
While the Friends of South Holland page has been available for just a few months, it already has more than 200 “Likes.” EDC has done a good job making the page interesting and engaging through the use of many pictures. They post pictures and related news bites of things that community members and visitors can relate to, such as groundbreakings and ribbon cuttings, road closures and street resurfacing projects, community events, and general community news, including village leadership appointments and awards.
Recent postings have included the grand opening of the South Holland Panera Bread, featuring drive-through service; resurfacing of South Park Avenue and 162nd Street; the new Extreme Clean Car Wash, featuring a dog wash; and Vision 2022 progress, such as new street signage.
South Holland values personal connections and the new Facebook fan page provides an opportunity to grow and develop relationships locally, regionally, and even worldwide. The page complements the village website very nicely, allowing prospective residents and businesses to enjoy a virtual visit to the community through the images and stories shared online.
EDC members are committed to growing the fan page. Chairman Clint Verhagen, along with members Garrick Bradley, Larry Broertjes, Jamieson Clay, Tim DeYoung, Kenneth Draus, Daryl Forney, Don Grimwood, Brian Kamstra, Prince Reed, Constance Tucker, Brent Verhagen, Steve Vinke, and Stephanie Walters-Jackson welcome visitors to the Friends of South Holland page. Visit https://www.facebook.com/FriendsOfSouthHolland.
As I work in public relations and marketing, I’m often the recipient of statements about South Holland. Oftentimes, the feedback is received from a visitor commenting on their observations as they cross the border from a neighboring community into South Holland. More often than not, the messages are complimentary and remind me that people are paying attention to this community.
Well, as South Holland’s Vision 2022 strategic plan progresses, the village has a new structure that is most definitely grabbing the attention of residents, visitors and the traveling public. Vision 2022 10-year plan, which was initially introduced to the community in October 2012, seeks to advance the village’s economic development goals, enhance the community’s infrastructure and technology, further develop its role as a local and regional leader, and establish a more cohesive community, among other aspirations.
The undertakings of the plan are vast and ambitious, and led by a fully charged and enthusiastic administrative team. Now in it’s first year of implementation, the most notable and visible improvement is the installation of a new gateway sign. This is not the average “Welcome to South Holland” sign that motorists are accustomed to seeing as they enter the community from the north, south, east and west.
The village’s leadership team worked with a local company to create this monument-like structure installed at the border on U.S. 6 (162nd Street), west of State Street. Built on a concrete foundation, the design consists of three pillars, constructed using stone molded concrete blocks, each with an engraved stone highlighting the community’s motto of Faith Family Future.
South Holland’s redesigned insignia, etched in the middle pillar, is made of granite with a polished border to frame the logo. The caps were created to crown the pillars with seasonal plants and flowers, and decorative fencing is the innovative finishing element that connects the three sections.
The concept of the gateway structure is consistent with design elements of South Holland’s Town Center, creating a more aesthetic appearance for the town’s main thoroughfare.
South Holland village employee Steve Vinke worked closely with Village Administrator Jason Huisman, Public Works Director Jeff Hon, Planning, Development and Code Enforcement Director Frank Knittle, and company owner Brian Tennis to develop concepts for the structure. Weeks of planning have resulted in an incredible structure that brings the village’s Vision 2022 plan to life.
An additional gateway structure, on a smaller scale, will be installed at the 170th Street entrance, east of Paxton Avenue (bordering Lansing).
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