Crime drops 16 percent in Oak Park

Tanksley touts impact of involved citizens at forum

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By Devin Rose

Staff Reporter

Crime continues to drop in Oak Park. For the first nine months of this year, crime is down by 16 percent over the same period a year earlier. That was the report Monday evening from Police Chief Rick Tanksley when he spoke at a community forum on crime and safety at village hall. That brings crime levels to their lowest point in the past four years, said Tanksley, and it continues a long term trend that has seen crime in the village decline since its all-time peak in 1982 – 29 years ago.

But at least one resident at the forum convened by the Oak Park village board questioned the accuracy of the crime statistics being reported.

Jack Chalabian told the audience he was concerned about the numbers because they could be adjusted to make them look extraordinary.

"There's still a perception in the community that there's crime," he said. Tanksley was direct in saying there are "no games being played," when it comes to the crime stats. Tanksley presented statistics that crime was down between two and 25 percent in each of the village's eight police beats.

The sparsely attended session on Monday evening in the council chambers at village hall was the first in an occasional series of community forums being planned by the village board in an effort to hear concerns from residents.

Tanksley strongly urged residents to keep calling the police to report any activity that may seem suspicious or out of the ordinary.

Despite the positive statistics, Tanksley and a raft of other top police officials standing with him, told residents to be nosy neighbors, and always call police if they feel unsafe.

Earlier this year, a group of reformed criminals at a similar forum said nosy neighbors were the number one deterrant to crime, Tanksley said. He advised attendees to lock windows and doors, because the longer it takes to get in, the more likely the criminal will get caught. Neighbors looking out for each other goes further than adding more police officers, he said.

Village President David Pope presented crime statistics by category and compared them to county wide crime stats. While the village was about 18 percent lower in murder, more than 90 percent lower in sexual assault and about 70 percent lower in motor vehicle theft, it ranked higher for burglary and theft he said.

Chalabian, the resident who questioned the crime statistics, suggested police officers should come out in the community more often. Cook County Assistant State's Attorney David Potter said he supported the idea. Potter, who is stationed in the state's attorney's satellite office in a storefront on Chicago Avenue near Austin Blvd., said he's walked with police through the community to hear what the issues are.

He encouraged residents to let Cook County board members know the satellite office program is one they should continue to fund. It could face cuts otherwise, Potter said.

Another suggestion came from Alan Hoffstadter, who is retired. He said police could possibly involve other retired residents who are home more often than they used to be to keep an eye on the happenings in their neighborhoods. If they're able to see their neighborhood's ebb and flow, Hoffstadter said, "they'll know when something is out of the ordinary."

Village Trustee Colette Lueck gave the audience another suggestion—be loud. Lueck said she was once in Dominick's on Lake Street and realized she was without her wallet after walking a short distance. She loudly yelled that her wallet was gone, thinking that whoever took it must still be in the store. She then found it—probably dropped by the perpetrator—in the next aisle over.

To discourage crime among young people, Tanksley and resident beat officer Elizabeth Dickson talked about the importance of having positive adult influence from parents or teachers. Tanksley said this could be helpful to combat the problem of high school students selling drugs, which he said was not a recent phenomenon.

Tanksley also mentioned some new initiatives to fight crime, including the Cook County Camera Initiative, which put three cameras along the Green Line el and two on the Blue Line. The CTA also plans to put cameras on every platform and vestibule which can be monitored by police.

The Public Safety Notification System, which Tanksley said is now online, can foster communication between police departments and residents, who can be notified via email, text or voicemail when a police emergency occurs.

Reader Comments

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Violet Aura  

Posted: October 28th, 2011 11:33 AM

@Green Line: Did you call the police? Press the call button in your car (after they ran away)? I sure hope so. That mob could have been apprehended soon afterwards but we all have to do our parts.

green line  

Posted: October 28th, 2011 1:37 AM

I rode the green line today from downtown to OP at 0710pm second front car. Bunch of roudy teenagers got on near ashland. Eventually they beat a person (who was reading a book and whose son was sitting next to him), smashed his head several times and run away. There were about 12 teenagers. I think it was California station. Shocked shocked and feel sympathy for those in West Chicago.


Posted: October 13th, 2011 11:04 AM

Crime is down 16%. What are u really saying? Crime is never going to 0. Maybe in heaven.

Fire Tanksley from the Oak Park Police Force  

Posted: October 13th, 2011 10:39 AM

Silly: bathing suits cover up the most important parts.

Second Amendment Dem  

Posted: October 13th, 2011 10:25 AM

Looks like the Supreme Court's striking down on the OP Gun Ban had an immediate impact!


Posted: October 13th, 2011 9:46 AM

If so, then keep wearing that suit. Whatever color or style it is, its beautiful to me. I'd really enjoy a 20% decline as well. Maybe when I lose 3 more pounds. LoL

Fire Tanksley from the Oak Park Police Force  

Posted: October 13th, 2011 9:19 AM

Statistics are like a bathing suit: they only show what they want you to see.

Dan Haley from Wednesday Journal  

Posted: October 12th, 2011 8:30 AM

Kelly, We are working on a story listing the reductions in crime by beat. That information was provided to us. Just not enough time to turn it yet. It will certainly be in print next week. Possibly on in advance of that. Dan Haley


Posted: October 12th, 2011 8:24 AM

Only 16 percent? That's it, I'm packing up and moving TO Western Springs. (Maybe their schools will help my fat-fingered typing skills)


Posted: October 12th, 2011 8:22 AM

Only 16 percent? That's it, I'm packing up and moving the Western Springs. ;-)

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: October 11th, 2011 10:56 PM

Thanks, Clerk Powell. I'm glad to learn that these meetings are being broadcast. Is there any reason that they are not also televised live on TV6? Do questions, comments or suggestions have to be submitted in advance or are we able to post live via electronic communications. That would be a terrific option. The more citizens are involved in the process; the better government serves.

Teresa Powell  

Posted: October 11th, 2011 9:23 PM

All meetings should be on the website. You can ways submit questions too.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: October 11th, 2011 6:31 PM

Was the meeting televised on TV6 or recorded so it can be broadcast at a later date? Were resident able to submit questions, comments and suggestions via email, twitter, text or telephone?


Posted: October 11th, 2011 5:54 PM

I'd like to know which beats had the biggest drop in crime rate and which beat had only a 2% drop in crime. Can the WJ post that information? Or was it not provided?

Just askin'  

Posted: October 11th, 2011 5:43 PM

Not do you know a choker is running around if no one is getting choked?

Not statistically significant. from OP  

Posted: October 11th, 2011 4:57 PM

Nice stat, but I'm pretty sure it's a rounding error and crime may have gone up or not (depends on what was reported really, doesn't it?). Besides, in Oak Park we still have the Choker running around, drug offenses too numerous to count, petty theft going on, and at least two unsolved murders that I'm aware of. I appreciate what OPPD does, but I still don't feel completely safe in Oak Park.


Posted: October 11th, 2011 4:24 PM

Well that is just Silly!


Posted: October 11th, 2011 3:43 PM

I give most of the credit to Chief Tanksley and The Village Board of Oak Park. In a close third is the media, yes the media. As much as they can alarm folks of everyday crime, they can also serve as a conduit for information and to alert residents to be more careful and alert. Thanks WJ, Oak Leaves and

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