By Michael Romain
Maywood – Police Chief Tim Curry was born and raised in Maywood. He joined the force on March 15, 1985 and was installed as Chief on June 12, 2009. Measured against the much shorter tenures of village managers and police chiefs in the past, Curry’s four years at the helm are refreshingly stable. The relative longevity, he says, provides him with an asset many of his predecessors might envy — time.
“I’ve been able to get a handle on some of the internal and external problems [affecting the department and the Village]. People in town pretty much know what I expect out of them and out of the police department. [They] know what my next move will be when things unravel,” he said.
Curry’s self-assessment seems vindicated. His department received effusive praise from Maywood residents, Mayor Yarbrough and other Village officials for how it handled the case of one-year-old Bryeon Hunter, who went missing over a month ago. The boy’s mother, LaKesha Baker, and her boyfriend, Michael Scott, have since been charged with Hunter’s murder. At a May 7 open meeting, Curry’s update on the department’s search and rescue efforts were met with a round of applause from a standing-room only crowd of residents in Village Chambers.
At the meeting, Curry told residents that the Maywood Police Department was working alongside the Illinois Search and Rescue Council and the Cook County Sheriff’s department to find Hunter’s body, but that conditions resulting from the flood had complicated their efforts.
Since that update, things haven’t changed much. If anything, the likelihood that the boy’s body will ever be recovered has only decreased. “Under the conditions of the swelling and the flow of the river, it’s highly unlikely we’ll recover anything,” Curry said. That’s not for a lack of effort. Curry has frequently emphasized that his department never took a day off since Hunter went missing. Even when historically high tides made searching the waters practically impossible, he and his officers were searching throughout town for leads.
Although the boy’s body has yet to be found, Curry said he’s hoping that something will turn up. The odds are long, but the case is still open. The department is still taking any leads that residents may come across, although people should understand that the river is dangerous. You volunteer at your own risk. Curry said that if citizens come across anything that may look like evidence, they should immediately report it to the Maywood Police, at (708) 450-4472.
Curry also talked about the Maywood Alternative Policing Strategies (MAPS) program, which may have played some part in the 2.5 percent overall increase in crime and the marked reduction in homicides the Village experienced in 2012. “The purpose [of MAPS] is to bring a heightened level of resources [to people’s concerns],” he said.
There are four zones in which MAPS meetings are held. Each week, Maywood police officers and residents meet in one of the four zones to discuss everything from loud music complaints to graffiti to drug-dealing. “Anything that bothers the taxpayers or that they want to talk about,” is what’s discussed, Curry said. During the meetings, residents are allowed to vent their concerns over public safety without those concerns being broadcast throughout the rest of the community.
The idea of community policing, from which MAPS was born, has been influential in Maywood for 20 years. However, the MAPS program, in its present form, wasn’t implemented until 2005. Back then, it was customary for only patrol officers to attend meetings. Now, however, Chief Curry attends the meetings himself. “I’m accessible to the people who come. They know that when they’re discussing new things, I respect [their concerns] and the problem is being looked at,” he said.
This kind of direct outreach approach to policing has apparently proved itself successful enough to Curry as to become almost axiomatic. “All of us fighting the problem [together] creates a more successful outcome.”
MAPS meetings take place each Monday at 7pm at different locations throughout the Village. Consult the Community Calendar on this site to for more information on zones and meeting sites.