Orland Park Officials Refute Orland Fire District Information

Orland Park Officials Refute Orland Fire District Information

The Village of Orland Park and its police department are calling for public education and accuracy in response to information shared by the Orland Fire Protection District during a public meeting the fire district held July 15 regarding heroin use in the community.

“I have watched and read the news reports regarding the fire protection district’s public presentation on July 15th,” Village Mayor Dan Mc Laughlin said, “and was deeply concerned with the inaccurate and misleading account provided in their presentation. As public officials, we have a special responsibility to ensure that residents receive exact and correct information – especially when it comes to the safety of their children. Sadly, this was not the case here. The fire district portrayed our village and our police department as being unresponsive to this critical issue and nothing could be further from the truth,” the mayor emphasized.

At the heart of the matter are comments made by fire district personnel during the meeting, implying that there is a drug and heroin problem in Orland Park elementary schools and that school officials refuse to permit fire district officials to address students about the issue.

Dr. Janet Stutz, superintendent of Orland School District 135, challenged the statements saying, “I’m quite perplexed by claims that fire protection district staff have not been allowed to make presentations to our students. They have attended our safety meetings. We’ve collaborated with them on CPR training and other fire prevention and protection programs and District 135 has a history of participating in fire district sponsored educational workshops regarding drugs and keeping children off drugs.”

Stutz continued, “I always viewed our partnership as very strong and effective. In addition, the implication that there is a drug epidemic in District 135 schools is simply not true. I do not know where any of this came from.”

Orland Park Police Chief Tim McCarthy echoed the sentiments offered by the mayor and the school superintendent.

“I have to express my disappointment that the police department was never notified about this meeting nor were we asked to participate,” McCarthy said. “If we were, we would have corrected the misleading and erroneous information then and there.”

Regarding reports that there is a drug epidemic in Orland’s elementary schools McCarthy said, “I can assure parents and the community that this is not the case. To make an allegation like this is frankly careless and a disservice to parents and the entire community.”

“Drugs and alcohol abuse are without a doubt a critical concern in every community in America and Orland Park is not immune from this threat,” McCarthy continued.

“In today’s world with so many single parent and both parent working households, the fact is moms and dads can’t always be around to help their kids make the right choices. But that is why I’m very proud of our efforts in combating drugs – not simply from a law enforcement standpoint, but from an educational side as well,” the police chief said.

“The Orland Park Police Department has been very proactive for decades with sponsoring educational efforts to inform our children of the effects of drug use and to help them make the right choices as they go on to high school. We’ve been very active in our schools and they have been particularly cooperative. Our department has produced a three-part round table video series about heroin which is available to parents through the village’s You Tube channel and on the village’s web site. Our DARE Program, that we started in 1987, and the subsequent DARE Booster Program have been very effective according to school officials and parents,” McCarthy said.

McCarthy concluded, “Every day, parents throughout this community ask themselves, ‘Are my kids going to be safe?’ ‘Will they fall victim to drug or alcohol abuse?’ That’s horrifying enough without it being fueled with inaccurate and misleading information provided by fire district officials.”