GLEN ELLYN – Glen Ellyn Police Chief Phil Norton knows there is "intense" public scrutiny of police officers today, in stark contrast to the days following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
"Where that started and why that is, is up for debate," Norton said, in talking about "Law Enforcement in Today's Environment" during the Glen Ellyn Chamber of Commerce's monthly meeting Sept. 12 at the new Glen Ellyn police station, 65 S. Park Blvd., Glen Ellyn. "Yesterday, we [marked] the anniversary of Sept. 11. In the wake of that tragedy, there was unprecedented support for law enforcement and first responders."
He noted that problems exist among some police departments.
"Some agencies really need some help getting them fixed," Norton said. "But somewhere in there, the tenure changed in this country, and it became a recognized, if not acceptable form of social dissatisfaction to attack the police in unprecedented manner, culminating in the worst attack on police since Sept. 11,  which occurred on July 7, 2016, in Dallas, [Texas]."
On that date, five Dallas police officers were killed in an ambush, and nine others were injured.
In the face of these challenges, Norton said the Glen Ellyn Police Department has tried to be as transparent as possible.
"We're transparent with the public," he said. "The first Saturday of every month, we have Coffee with the Cops for two hours, from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. For 12 times a year, anyone in the public has access to the chief of police. We're available. We have the friendliest police department you'll run into in DuPage County, probably anywhere. And I'm proud to say that. That's what we train in our officers."
And that in turn helps officers in their jobs, Norton said.
"Our village board members get letters on a regular basis," he said. "I got a letter last week from a woman who received a ticket from one of our officers and was complimenting how she was treated."
The department in June moved into its new police station, which Norton said is helping the department do its job better. The new station is more than double the size of the 11,000-square-foot facility at the Glen Ellyn Civic Center at 535 Duane St. in downtown Glen Ellyn that was overcrowded.