Amid protests against systemic racism, New Lenox Mayor Tim Baldermann said he hopes more constructive dialogue overcomes deep divisions within the country.
Still, he said, rumors and misinformation on social media make his job communicating to the public more challenging.
The mayor spoke with The Herald-News about how he has handled anti-racist protests like one that took place in New Lenox recently. Baldermann said about 1,000 people attended a Black Lives Matter demonstration near village hall earlier this month.
“You can find any opinion and any set of facts, as people like to say, on social media,” he said. “That makes a job like mine much, much more difficult.”
He added there were “no problems” during the protest and the interactions were all positive.
The mayor also said he thought that while the “vast majority” of police departments and municipalities train and hold their officers to high standards, some may not.
“When you’re talking about thousands of police agencies across the United States, clearly just like any other profession, there are going to be those that are lacking, that fall behind,” he said.
Baldermann, who spent 22 years as a member of the Chicago Ridge Police Department before retiring as chief in 2010, also shared his thoughts on how a politically divided nation can work on reforming the criminal justice system.
Still, whether through his social media posts or public speeches, Baldermann conceded political divisions in the U.S. may make change more difficult to accomplish. He said he hopes those on both sides of the issue do “a lot of listening and not just shouting and talking.”
“Whether it’s a political divide or racism, this is not a new phenomenon here in our country, it’s just in our consciousness and in our face every single day,” he said. “I think it’s a good thing in the sense that now we have an opportunity to talk about not just the problem, but is there a solution?”
Watch the entire interview with Baldermann on The Herald-News website.