To the editors:
As an Oak Park police officer, I feel obliged to respond, with my individual opinion, to your front-page article of November 27 [“Two Cops Who Broke the Code“].
The article concerns a nonstory which will remain a nonstory unless allegations are borne out by facts.
Since the initiation of this investigation in 1984 there has been much rumor and speculation concerning the investigation’s focus. As yet, there have been no arrests, no indictments, not even any disciplinary actions brought against members of the Oak Park police department as a result of the initial investigation, or as a result of the investigation brought about by the lawsuit filed by the two detectives. If indictments and arrests do occur, then there will be a story.
This investigation was initiated by a weak and ineffective police chief, Keith Bergstrom. Bergstrom, frustrated by his inability to lead the police department in the fight against a troublesome crime rate, sought other means to advance his career. He made no secret of his desire to use his position of police chief as a career stepping-stone. Pat Kelly and Ron Surmin are the victims of Bergstrom’s blind ambitions.
The investigation is one of a number of blunders which are the legacies of Bergstrom’s tenure as police chief. Bergstrom has now moved on. Good riddance for Oak Park. Sympathy is due those who live and work where his follies next take him.
Jim Bowman replies:
I talked to dozens of people in connection with the state investigation, and no one suggested Bergstrom concocted charges to further his career. Does the officer really want to say this is how a police career is furthered? By investigating one’s own? And to say Bergstrom duped Kelly and Surmin, two of Oak Park’s top detectives, is to give him more credit than the letter writer intends. If Kelly and Surmin were so gullible, why does everybody praise them so much as detectives? Finally, is it a nonstory that Kelly and Surmin lost their careers?