The case for raising your kids in Oak Park

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David Pope

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I really appreciate John Hubbuch's perspective and often find important insights in his columns. This past week was no exception [Crime forces hard choices, Viewpoints, July 13]. He wrote of the public safety challenges faced periodically by individual Oak Park residents, and of the interplay between perception and reality regarding public safety here in our community.

He also wrote thoughtfully about the housing-location choice facing his son Chris' family. Chris, his wife Sarah, and their two daughters, Lily and Ava, currently live in Oak Park, but are considering purchasing a home in Western Springs. In discussions surrounding this possibility, Chris shared with John that one of his considerations is "the safety and security of his family."

As a father who also has two young girls, I fully understand Chris' commitment to his family's safety and well-being. My wife and I long ago made the decision to plant our roots deep in Oak Park, and to raise any children we might have here in this village. This was not a casual decision, but rather a very deliberate and conscious one, made well before we ever had any notion that I would become involved in village governance.

Beth and I both believe that Oak Park continues to make a very strong case as being the optimal place in the entire country, much less in the metropolitan area, to raise children (to say nothing of what a fabulous place it is for people of all ages without kids). I hope that in sharing some of our thoughts, John, Chris, and others similarly situated, may have a few other things to think about when considering whether to make Oak Park home.

I was born here and so, like Chris, I had a strong a connection to Oak Park from a very early age. On its own, though, that wouldn't have been enough to cause us to return. In looking at where to live, public and personal safety would be high on anyone's list. For those facing this decision today, a number of factors are worth bearing in mind.

First, Oak Park is safer today than it has been at any time in the last 40 years, with the lowest amount of serious crimes committed in the past four decades (down over 30 percent in just the past six years alone). Further, Oak Park continues to have the highest proportion of police officers to residents of almost any city in the state, and, correspondingly, also has among the fastest response times of any comparable community across the country (according to a recent study conducted by the International City/County Manager's Association).

That's not to say that we don't face challenges here. We do, particularly with the far too frequent and easily preventable thefts of unlocked bikes and unlocked cars parked in unlocked or open garages.

Nonetheless, too many of us nurture fears for our children regarding the unknown and the uncontrollable, worrying about the possibility of drive-by shootings or child abductions — even though the prospect of these affecting our kids here in Oak Park is almost infinitesimal. But, hidden behind the threats that occupy too many parents private fears (stoked in large part by the insatiable 24/7 news cycle's morbid fascination with tragedy), are real tangible concerns and threats that face our kids today, and will continue to confront them in the future.

More than 40 percent of American children are at significant risk of growing up overweight or obese, with the prospect of lifelong health challenges and the likelihood of being the first generation in centuries not to outlive their parents. We can confront this by living intentionally in ways that promote healthy eating and a more active lifestyle, and by choosing to live in walkable, pedestrian and bike friendly places that present significant opportunity to incorporate motion into our daily routines. By its very design and physical layout, Oak Park encourages this better than almost anywhere (and certainly far better than the typical auto-dominated subcultures that proliferate in modern suburbia) with our network of walkable neighborhood schools and retail districts, our easy access to many modes of public transportation, and our numerous sources of healthy foods.

In this rapidly globalizing economy, another profound threat to our kids is homogeneity. Children growing up only with other people like themselves, never learning to work with others who may be different, will be at a significant disadvantage in the marketplace versus those who have a broader experience set. Oak Park kids, raised in what is statistically the most successfully diverse municipality in the entire United States (based on dissimilarity index analysis), will have learned to function and succeed in a village that increasingly looks more and more like the world around it.

Finally, another profound threat to the social and emotional well-being of children today (though perhaps not much more so than has been the case for the past several generations) is the overemphasis on the self. "Me, me, me" doesn't seem to be a very successful model for turning out well-adjusted adults. Fortunately, here in Oak Park we have an embarrassment of riches in the breadth and depth of our volunteer community. The number of service and civic organizations, and the incredible number of people who volunteer their time to these organizations (including many kids), serve as a guidepost to the youth of our community regarding the need for each of us to move beyond our own concerns, and to serve others in a selfless way.

As Beth and I were making our location decision many years ago, these were the things that we were thinking about. Physical health, diversity and selflessness. These were, and we believe continue to be, real keys in helping kids to grow into healthy adults. And, on each of these fronts, I would put Oak Park up against anywhere. I hope Chris does too.

David Pope has been the village president of Oak Park since 2005.

Reader Comments

119 Comments - Add Your Comment

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Closeted in Oak Park  

Posted: August 11th, 2011 4:24 PM

The Oak Park brand has gotten old for us and we are looking for an exit strategy -- but we're stuck in this progressive utopia due the real estate market collapse. However, I have been really shocked to learn that several young acquaintances who absolutely love Oak Park have chosen to move and raise their families elsewhere. Why? Taxes are just too high and the long-term outlook is not good!

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: July 29th, 2011 9:51 PM

The majority of crime is committed by a minority of the population. Career criminals are a plague on society and until we are able to isolate and control these elements;law abiding citizens will continue to be victimized. Law enforcement can only do so much. The judicial system must accept it's responsibilty and end the practice of plea bargaining and reduced sentencing. If an individual demonstrates a willingness to participate in a rehabilitation program; they should given that opportunity.

brian Slowiak from OakPark  

Posted: July 29th, 2011 6:34 PM

This is not an issue of percentages,perception.Crime is the unseen tax some of us will pay,some pay with their life. OP has the distinction to have an unsolved child abduction. The art of the criminal investigation is the identification of the perpetrator unknown to the victim. Are the uniform officers invested to the clear up procedure and performance? How is information shared?Demand the OPPD show their clearance rates.Who leads, who supervises.Supervise kids, lead police officers.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: July 29th, 2011 12:00 PM

I am a proponent of neighborhood policing and believe it is particularly important in OPV. I follow Chief Tanksley recommendation of calling 911 when potential crime issues are observed. The police are excellent and fast at responding to these calls. 911 always asks if you wish the police to report the results to your home. I always say No. Once reported it is no longer my responsibility. I am glad to see we have a full time neighborhood liaison. It is a great add to the neighborhood program.

Editor from Oak Park  

Posted: July 29th, 2011 11:54 AM

Crime does exist, and that's why we have a large P .D. & Community Justice Center to combat crime, and now Dennis Leaks, for people who may have been raised in an environment where trusting Police was frowned upon. Oak Park is still a very nice community, with very nice people, but when you have surrounding communities you could have walked through 40 years ago, turn into areas you wouldn't step foot into today, that change is going to effect Oak Park.

Jg Morales  

Posted: July 29th, 2011 9:11 AM

@Dennis Leaks- Thanks for posting the info. @John Murtagh- From the conversations I've had, it doesn't seem to be have vs have nots in the way that it once was. Possibly because the "have nots" population in Oak Park has increased, and maybe more transplants than in the past. You do raise a good point about residents being younger. We were just talking the other day about how older neighbors would call the police or village on a pretty regular basis.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 29th, 2011 8:31 AM

@DennisLeaks ... thank you for posting your outreach and contact information. I have often walked or driven by the Cook County State's Attorney Community Justice Center at 4 Chicago Ave. and wondered about how the public may make better use of its facilities. I know of several neighborhood groups that would like to know more about crime in Oak Park and Austin communities.

Dennis Leaks, Community Policing Liaison  

Posted: July 29th, 2011 7:54 AM

I can be reached at dleaks@oak-park.us The Community Justice Center can be reached at 708-386-7301 and is located at 4 Chicago Ave. (in the same office as our sub station at Chicago & Austin Blvd).

Dennis Leaks, Community Policing Liaison  

Posted: July 29th, 2011 7:50 AM

The Oak Park Police Dept has great relationships with our neighboring Chicago Police Department districts, the 15th Dist on our east border and the 25th Dist to our north. Also, we have the great fortune of having the Cook Cook County State's Attorney's West Side Community Justice Center located in Oak Park. This is a meeting place for the Asst. State's Attorneys ,OPPD, the 15th, and 25th Districts to meet and exchange information about trends, patterns, and suspects that may cross our borders

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: July 28th, 2011 4:13 PM

I agree. Real Estate interests are a very vocal and active lobbying group with village government, though they rarely express their views publicly. That is; with the exception of their massive newspapers presence with housing advertisements.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 28th, 2011 12:20 PM

@JohnM: the demographic ground continues to shift below us in OP, as the surrounding world continues to change as well. From the day Kettlestrings chose this location, the primary asset of OP is proximity and access to Chicago's jobs, markets, and culture; and therefore one of real estate. Pope's viewpoint continues the business-as-usual, rose-tinted perception of OP marketed by real estate interests, rather than a reality-based discussion necessary for us to adapt to change as a villa

john murtagh from OP  

Posted: July 28th, 2011 2:13 AM

I think OP is less aloof than when on moved here in 2001. The 2010 census will probably show that the demographics have changed a lot - maybe more than since the 80's. While our demographics are younger and more cosmopolitan,my sense is that the OP image of non-OP'ers has changed very little. I don't think that the perception is as race based as it once was. It is more haves vs have nots based. Maybe the 1st thing residence can do is to use the census to understand who we,and our neig

OP Guy  

Posted: July 28th, 2011 12:08 AM

Cont. You call the cops for people being loud in Lakeview and cops are there within minutes... I've known people who live in Austin who've reported gangbangers dealing drugs outside their building only to have cops show up hours later. How do you fight crime without community support? And how do you gain community support without the trust of the residents.

OP Guy  

Posted: July 28th, 2011 12:02 AM

John, Yes, there are lots of good people in Austin that look out for people, and that was good of you to help the needy. Building good relationships it's always a good start, but I think it's going to take more than that to fight criminal elements, drug gangs etc... Police need to gain the trust of the community, and the community needs to have safe ways to report crime, and police need to take all levels of crime and public disturbance seriously.

OP Guy  

Posted: July 27th, 2011 11:56 PM

Cont. The re-allocation of police from low crime districts to high crime districts may also be another way.

OP Guy  

Posted: July 27th, 2011 11:55 PM

Resident, I don't know how police are suppose to prevent crimes, but I believe it's part of their job descriptions, as oppose to just waiting for it to happen. Yes, it's impossible to be everywhere, but people in Austin use to have a better relationship with the police which meant more cooperation between residents and CPD, which has struggled year after year due to strategy changes etc... Developing better public relations maybe a start.

Jg Morales  

Posted: July 27th, 2011 11:54 PM

@John- That truly is a lovely sentiment and an important reminder, but I'm not seeing how it addresses crime. And please know, just because I (or others) say there's more that could be done, it doesn't mean we're coming down on the OPPD. If anything, the people I've spoken with over the years feel less like OP is aloof than they did 10 years ago. I can't speak for all, but that's the impression I've been getting. What more can residents do from your perspective?

Resident  

Posted: July 27th, 2011 11:03 PM

Love it John

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: July 27th, 2011 11:02 PM

J. Morales - My sense is the the OPPD and CPD already work together on both sides of the border. My sense is that there is a lot OP and W-Chi residents can do to improve relations and communications. There are barriers we can help bring down. OP sees W-Chi as threatening, they see OP as aloof. We have many local leaders (Cedric Melton of the OP Staff, Dan Haley of the WJ, John Williams of OPT) that have championed closer relations. We would benefit from their thoughts. (See my post below.)

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: July 27th, 2011 10:42 PM

A few weeks ago my car broke down at Central and Van Buren. Several people help me move my car to the curb and played guardian angel while I waited for the tow truck. Two weeks ago, we realized that we would be one of the last houses to get back power and knew our food would go bad. We gathered it all together and I found a minister at Central&Van Buren that ran a soup kitchen. I dropped off the meat, met his family and chatted a bit. It reminded me everything in a bad neighborhood is not bad.

Resident  

Posted: July 27th, 2011 10:23 PM

Crime is happening on CWS as well people. How exactly are the police suppose to prevent crimes?? I have an idea. How about 500 PO's on the street per shift? Its merely impossible to be everywhere all the time. Get real and know that OPPD id doing alot that we dont see. How can anybody keep the stats on prevented crimes??????

OP Guy  

Posted: July 27th, 2011 9:52 PM

Cont. Whether you consider our relationship with the CWS a "burden" or not, nothing is going to change as long as Austin stays a high poverty area with a lot of desperate and hopeless people living in the same conditions, if CPD doesn't change what they are doing, and if OPPD doesn't work with CPD to better prevent and apprehend criminals. Yes, it's important for residents to do the usual crime prevention exercises, but OPPD and CPD, and the village has A LOT of responsibility.

OP Guy  

Posted: July 27th, 2011 9:41 PM

John, I believe it IS the responsibility of the police to keep residents safe from crime in the village... that's what they are getting payed for, in addition to writing parking tickets. I don't mean to come off as painting all Austin residents with the same brush, and yes, they are our neighbors, but the fact of the matter is a lot of the crime in OP IS imported from the CWS, and that crime IS a "burden", so whether we like it or not, we have a relationship with the CWS that's not working.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 27th, 2011 9:37 AM

Rather then rely on anecdotal evidence, I completed a comparison of crime index offenses in OP relative to Suburban Cook County (SCC), for the last reported year (2009). Offense categories where OP exceeded SCC were: robbery (273%), burglary (220%), and theft (135%). I welcome other data sources and methods for providing meaningful discussion related to crime. (SCC data source: Crime in Illinois 2009 Annual Uniform Crime Report. OP data source: Chicago Tribune: community crime rates)

Jg Morales  

Posted: July 27th, 2011 8:58 AM

@John- Who else should be responsible? It seems we work closely with RF and FP police, but do we work as closely with CPD? I know they love our 7-11s. So much so that I was almost run over by a Chicago police officer (in Oak Park) who ran a red light on his way to the one on South Blvd. But is there a team or task force (whathaveyou) set up to address crime between Oak Park and Chicago?

Jg Morales  

Posted: July 27th, 2011 8:41 AM

Not to ruffle any feathers, but I think it's important to note that the reputation of Oak Park and it's PD has changed over the past 10-15 years. The impression used to be that we had good schools, lots of Police officers who had "nothing better to do" than write tickets for everything that would normally go unnoticed in Chicago. Do something really wrong and 50 cop cars would descend on you in 9.2 seconds. Now, people feel the need to tell me that Oak Park will be the new Maywood. (I was just told this yesterday by a westsider who stays close to the Austin border.) Supposedly our schools are going to crap, and the community is coming down. Maybe the perception of Oak Park and our PD has something to do with a change in the number of violent crimes?

Cheerleader  

Posted: July 27th, 2011 8:40 AM

So far I hear how Oak Park is lacking in fighting crime. What exactly should they do that they are not?

john murtagh from Oak Park  

Posted: July 27th, 2011 4:11 AM

OP Guy -- good idea but why dump the responsibility on the police. OP as a whole has very little interaction with the Chicago West Side. It's easy to cross Austin and rob people that seem elitist and treat the CWS as a burden rather than a neighbor.

OP Guy  

Posted: July 27th, 2011 12:40 AM

Since many of the crimes are committed by west side Chicago thugs, I'd like to see more cooperation between Oak Park and Chicago PDs, so these losers don't feel like they are home free just because they cross Austin Blvd. when OPPD go after them. I'd like to see Chicago put more police resources into their largest and one of their most troubled districts. I want to feel hopeful that things continue to get better, but I'd like to see a comprehensive plan for dealing with the imported crime.

OP Guy  

Posted: July 27th, 2011 12:26 AM

I'm with you, Jg Morales. There are many things I love about Oak Park, and I do think it's "relatively safe" and a good place for kids, but I also feel that more needs to be done about violent crime and robberies. It's one thing to exercise caution, but it's another thing to have people bringing guns into the village and punching/choking people for money. I don't want to sound alarmist, but I do want to feel like OPPD/the village are doing everything to intelligently tackle this.

Jg Morales  

Posted: July 26th, 2011 8:15 AM

@Reality Check- You really could sell your house for a fraction of what you paid for it. Apparently, you just haven't dropped the price enough. I'll give you 10Gs for it. *rim shot* @Mr. Pope- It was great to see you take the time to write this. The Enuf "pwnage" was quite amusing. --- I guess I'm in the middle. I think Oak Park is relatively safe, but my perspective is that violent crimes have increased in recent years. (Could this be due to an increase in crime reporting? I'm not sure.) Yet, I still think Oak Park is good for kids. While I think there is room for a lot of improvement, at this point, I think all of the pluses outweigh the minuses when you look at the big picture. While I'm thinking about private school for my children, and I've actually considered moving out of state, so long as I'm in the Chicagoland area, I think OP is the best choice.

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: July 26th, 2011 12:23 AM

It seems that on those occasions when a discussion starts to heat up; someone will post a comment that directs those who offer a differing opinion to "move out of Oak Park". This message has a familiar ring for those of us who protested against the Vietnam War. We were told, "America. Love It or Leave It!". That order was ignored as should this latest demand. We will engage the debate with those who demonstrate a reasoned thought process and ignore those who seek to bully.

Cheerleader  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 11:27 PM

"......the village president should not disguise the reality of crime with false claims."- Enufs words not mine. 7.20.11 5:48pm Dont tell me you are gonna spin this jmurtagh

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 9:45 PM

No one, including Enuf, called David Pope a liar at any time. Epic was the first to use the word lie or lying when he wrote "That's more akin to lying." Enuf was the target of Epic lie comment which defended David Pope. David Pope is capable of taking care of himself. If he thinks was called a liar, let him make the accusation. Accusers without facts, especially those with pseudonyms (Cheerleader) don't have much credibility.

Cheerleader  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 7:44 PM

J Murtagh, I believe it was enuf that called out Pope as a liar first. There is no defense for his pointing out nothing regarding Mr Pope's piece. Waste of time and space. If someone is only able to point out problems they perceive, and not offer any solutions or sound alternatives. Nothing has been accomplished. Some people just find joy in the weirdest things. Oh well.

jo  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 7:22 PM

I agree, Bridgett--by complaining, you say things can be better. If you shut up, it means you've given up.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 3:11 PM

@Cheerleader: I don't necessarily think the response to folks with criticism is to say "just leave" (or words to that effect). I have found that I am the most vocal with crticism rearding things I truly care about because I believe a good thing could be great (though I tend to use the "sandwich" approach and not be a "one-noter", since I know that people will just tune me out when I do that).

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 2:55 PM

CheerL - The quote is: "Statistics (Facts) don't lie Statistician do." In the Pope/Enuf discussion I don't see anyone lying. I see a difference of opinion on the data each chose to use, and the meaning of the data. That is not lying.

OP  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 2:43 PM

If you only have one kid you can live in the Comcast building. If you are a two parent family you can't though.

Money talks  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 2:35 PM

So how are the "economically diverse" supposed to raise their kids in Oak Park? In a 1 bedroom apartment?

Cheerleader  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 2:15 PM

Stats dont lie. Enuf was comparing apples to oranges when saying that Mr. Pope was wrong. Its a shame that enuf feels so insecure about many issues in Oak Park and speaks out against the Village on 98% of them posted on Oak Park.com If things are so crazy for you in your world and your stats, just pick up and leave. No one is forcing you to stay.

KMom from Oak Park  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 1:24 PM

When I hear that the OPPD has made progress in solving Pedro Gurrola's murder (almost a YEAR ago, and no arrests!), Peter D'Agostino's murder (SIX years ago!) then maybe I will feel the love for the OPPD. Not to mention -- word of an arrest or information to close the loop on who dumped a dismembered body in the alley of the 1000 block of East avenue. Funny how all three stories faded away in the press. Any updates Mr. Pope???

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 1:20 PM

@EpicLulz: not sure specifically what you mean, as I tried to provide cited references from credible sources, as well as my rationale, so as to provide a more relevant basis for discussion. If you have differing data, please share. @Bridgett: you are right. In this one instance, I assumed it was accepted knowledge that OP has more of certain Type I crimes relative to other local communities. I would be glad to provide substantiation, if you would like.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 1:08 PM

Epic -- Enuf has had a great track record on village statistics and is a fantastic asset. His opinions are also strong and I don't always agree with him, but they are always well grounded. I think saying what he does is a LIE is dead wrong. Pope and Enuf were using different facts but both had facts. I sure think that Pope was the cherry picker in this circumstance.

Reality Check. from OP  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 12:42 PM

15 years later, knowing what I know now (and being reminded about OP's general struggle with "truthiness" as typified by the Pope/Enuf exchange), it would be a close call but I'd move to Forest Park, LaGrange or Elmhurst instead...and I'd wager that at least 25% of all OPers feel similarly. (And, yes, I'd move today if I could sell my house for even a fraction of what I paid for it!)

jo  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 12:18 PM

Enuf's views are "new"? That's so far from the truth as to be laughable.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 12:11 PM

The exchange between Enuf is Enuf and David Pope is valuable to OP. It typifies two views of OP. The old line view that OP is doing fine, successfully addressing its problems, and moving in the right direction,and the more current view that it is too dependent on traditional approaches, that it face a serious resource drain, that bad outcomes were the result of bad decision, and that OP is headed in the wrong direction. The question that needs asking. Is OP moving forward or backwards?

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 11:52 AM

(cont.) How do we define "significantly higher" or "acceptable levels?" This is a matter of opinion. Which is fine to have an opinion, as long as we all know that it's an opinion, even though it's written among a lot of stats, thus giving such opinions the illusion of also being facts, which they aren't.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 11:51 AM

Enuf, While you criticize David Pope for (apparently) not sticking to stats/facts and "embellishing the truth," can you see that your own conclusions are really opinions and perspective than they are facts? You say things like, "OP is significantly higher in serious crime offenses per capita. While crime has been reduced, it is far from acceptable levels." (cont.)

epic lulz  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 11:40 AM

Pope made some overly broad claims, which he has clarified. He is at worst guilty of boosterism. Enuf however is guilty of variously cherry picking data and compressing data to show the opposite of what the relevant data actually shows. That's more akin to lying. Enuf, I usually appreciate your insight, but you've lost this battle.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 10:41 AM

@Cheerleader: Pope did not initially qualify his claim by referring only to communities > 40,000. He stated "almost any city in the state", of which there are about 800. Later, after my response, he provided a revised claim by referencing communities > 40,000, of which there are about 40. I agree with this qualified, and more modest, claim. Afterwards, his question to me was in reference again to "IL cities, excluding Chicago", which I took to mean any size city; hence my res

jo  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 10:22 AM

I also wish people would stop holding LaGrange and Elmhurst up as these suburban utopias. I don't want to live either of those places!

jo  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 10:14 AM

I do feel safe in OP. I take the Green Line at night. I allow my children to walk alone in OP. For them, I fear traffic more than crime, because people around here drive like blind maniacs. I've lived here a long time, and the only crime I've been a victim to has been the break-in and thefts of bikes and scooters. I am far from alone in this. I'm cautious, but I refuse to live in fear.

Cheerleader  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 10:13 AM

Enuf, Do you understand what more than (>40,000) means in population. Mr. Pope was using like communities. Apples to apples. Oranges to oranges. Perceptions and reality may differ. The discussion centers around stats. I can get robbed in any community in the world and think its unsafe, while still being the safest place on the planet. No?

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 10:01 AM

... U.S., as claimed in the above article. Other than data and stats, the real questions are; do you feel safe walking alone at night? Do you allow your young kids to walk alone to school or anywhere in OP? Do you feel safe in your home and yard? How safe is Oak Park relative to comparable communities, such as Elmhurst, LaGrange, Evanston, River Forest? I would be interested and welcome other opinions and viewpoints.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 9:51 AM

@jo: just trying to provide accurate info from substantiated data so residents can make an informed decision. I accept a certain amount of boosterism from elected officials, but if exaggerated too much, it tends to mask real issues. Let's start with clear facts, and then form our own opinion. Crime is more than "preventable thefts of unlocked bikes and unlocked cars" and while diverse in certain ways, we are not "statistically the most successfully diverse municipality in the

jo  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 9:15 AM

also, these places (like Stone Park) with such tiny populations, they probably need more than that ratio just to open the police department doors and turn on the lights.

jo  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 9:10 AM

"almost" being the key word. I don't know why you are beating this one into the ground, Enuf. Aren't you the "no taxes" guy? Are you saying we need to hire more cops? With what and to what end?

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 9:07 AM

@Cheerleader, jo: My comment was in response to Pope's challenge; "How many IL cities, excluding Chicago, have you come up with that have a higher ratio of officers/1000 population than Oak Park. I'd venture immediate to guess that you're between slim and none." I looked at some of the western suburbs in the immediate area, found quite a few, and reported my findings. Pope's initial claim was OP has "the highest proportion of police officers to residents of almost any city in the state.%u20

Cheerleader  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 8:25 AM

The Village of River Forest (population: 11172). The Village of Forest Park (The population was 15,688 at the 2000 census) Enuf......You clearly cant read.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 7:46 AM

... and Forest Park (according to the State of Illinois, 2009 Annual Uniform Crime Report).

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 7:43 AM

@jo: we have lived in both Chicago and OP, and my experience with the OPPD has been great. The size of our police force has always been elusive, due to village accounting that does not always include attrition, sick leave, maternity leave, etc. I was merely trying to counter Pope's claim that "Oak Park continues to have the highest proportion of police officers to residents of almost any city in the state", when in fact, we have less sworn officers per resident than River Forest a

jo   

Posted: July 25th, 2011 7:30 AM

Stone Park: Population in July 2009: 4,851. Population change since 2000: -5.4% What a silly comparison.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 7:28 AM

The paradox of reduced crime over the years, a trend that has occurred both county and statewide for the past 20 years, is that it masks the current problem of serious crimes in OP, which includes violent crimes against persons (robbery and aggravated assault/battery); and crimes against property (burglary and theft). When compared to peer communities, OP is significantly higher in serious crime offenses per capita. While crime has been reduced, it is far from acceptable levels.

jo   

Posted: July 25th, 2011 7:28 AM

Well, then, let's all move to Stone Park!

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 7:14 AM

Oak Park's 2.34 full-time sworn officers per 1,000 residents is less than many neighboring western suburbs, such as Forest Park (2.50), River Forest (2.42), Melrose Park (3.25), North Riverside (4.49), Schiller Park (2.85), and Stone Park (3.24). Many of these communities also have part-time sworn officers, while OP has none. I would not entirely dismiss Chicago (5.59), as OP crime is proximate and related. (source: State of Illinois, Crime in Illinois 2009, Annual Uniform Crime Report)

jo  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 7:12 AM

As for police response--when our house was burglarized in Chicago, the police didn't even *show up*-- we had to go to the station to file the police report. I was surprised at the level of police response to our burglary here--the OP police were prompt, on the job, and we were fortunate, they caught the guy. Though I was and remain unhappy about the burglary (the house was locked, door was kicked in), I was very pleased with the police response, and would be even if he hadn't been apprehended.

jo  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 7:05 AM

I think you're asking two different questions, Kelly--The whole "what do I tell my child?" question--kids don't understand statistics, of course--I would, and have, told the child that no one was hurt, and that is what counts. As for crime stats--stats don't mean squat if you are the person victimized. Still, crime is down, relatively low, so much different from what we experienced in the city and other places we have lived. Still, Mr. Pope, I agree that it's more than unlocked bikes.

Kelly  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 6:47 AM

I'll say it again, Mr. Pope, since my comment is all the way at the bottom. As the victim of a residential burglary in OP, I found your letter insulting. Just yesterday, my son asked me to be on the same floor as him in our own home with our doors locked because he was afraid someone would break in to our house again. Two days ago he asked me if the police ever caught the bad guys who broke into our house. (They have not.) Would you like to explain to him how crime rates are down?

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 6:30 AM

You have misrepresented crime in OP to "preventable thefts of unlocked bikes and unlocked cars parked in unlocked or open garage", while armed robbery on public streets is all too common. You have stated that OP is "statistically the most successfully diverse municipality in the entire U.S.", a total myth of your own fabrication. Why do you have this need to embellish the truth? Countering your hyperbole is not being negative, but rather a necessary citizen action for a ratio

David Pope from Oak Park  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 12:19 AM

Btw Enuf: How many IL cities, excluding Chicago, have you come up with that have a higher ratio of officers/1000 population than Oak Park. I'd venture to guess that you're between slim and none.

David Pope from Oak Park  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 12:17 AM

His failure to understand (or intentional decision to misrepresent) the dramatically disproportionate effect of Chicago's officer staffing levels on state averages leads to the logical question of whether Enuf really wants folks to understand this issue, or if there's another agenda at work here. Btw Enuf: How many IL cities, excluding Chicago, have you come up with that have a higher ratio of officers/1000 population than Oak Park. I'd venture to guess that you're between sl

David Pope from Oak Park  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 12:13 AM

I'm not perfect. Nor is the Board. Nor the Village. We all know this. In turn, we strongly encourage the active engagement of residents from all backgrounds and perspectives to help support our community. A great way is to serve on a Citizen Advisory Board or Commission to advise the Village Board on local policymaking (incl. public safety issues). @ Enuf - I'd be thrilled to see you serve and help build our community up, rather than simply as the all too familiar on-line scorched

David Pope from Oak Park  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 12:11 AM

At the end of the day, Enuf, if you really care about helping to make our community an even better place than it is already, then I'll extend to you the same invitation that I convey to all our residents, please become involved. And by that, I mean in a way that is more productive and positive than simply taking anonymous pot shots and spreading misinformation in this on-line forum regarding everything and anything the Village ever does.

David Pope from Oak Park  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 12:10 AM

His failure to understand (or intentional decision to misrepresent) the dramatically disproportionate effect of Chicago's officer staffing levels on state averages leads to the logical question of whether Enuf really wants folks to understand this issue, or if there's another agenda at work here. Btw Enuf: How many IL cities, excluding Chicago, have you come up with that have a higher ratio of officers/1000 population than Oak Park. I'd venture to guess that you're between sl

David Pope from Oak Park  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 12:09 AM

The officers/1000 population info is from http://www.city-data.com/city/Illinois.html (the same site that John's son Chris was using to do his research). I looked up each individual city's page to get that single data point for each. And while it may be hard for Enuf to believe, I didn't have the time to look up 800 city pages just to prove him wrong again.

David Pope from Oak Park  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 12:08 AM

...(earlier examples are from the Illinois Uniform Crime Statistics).

David Pope from Oak Park  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 12:07 AM

(cont'd.) I obviously wasn't in office in 1994, but the data for Oak Park is easily and publicly available going back well before that. Having been elected President in 2005, all Trustees and I since then have obviously paid very close attention to crime rates and public safety. And in that time there is no denying that crime in Oak Park has dropped to a far greater extent than any of the "context" areas Enuf would care to cite (earlier examples are from the Illinois Uniform

David Pope from Oak Park  

Posted: July 25th, 2011 12:05 AM

Enuf already ;-) The crime trend data is a combination of the state data (from http://www.isp.state.il.us/crime/cii2009.cfm ) and VOP data available on the Village's web site. @ Enuf: If you weren't so dead set on trying to find fault and tear down the Village all the time, you might understand that I haven't reframed my original arguments, but instead have tried to respond to your (intentionally?) misleading comments.

Bridgett from Oak Park  

Posted: July 24th, 2011 11:29 PM

Regarding crime rates: Yeah sure Oak Park isn't Mayberry. But Mayberry (the fictional town in North Carolina) had 2% the population of Oak Park,and didn't border a huge city of more than 2 million. The major crimes in Oak Park are committed by non-Oak Parkers. My point being this: You can't have the positives of living next to one of the greatest cities, and not have some of the "issues" that come with that.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 24th, 2011 8:42 PM

Claim 3: All of my data was referenced from "Village of Oak Park, IL: Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice", prepared by Mullin & Lonergan Assoc., Jan, 2010. According to the report (footnote 2, p. 29), a dissimilarity index between 30 and 60 is "moderate". I correctly quoted from the report that "OP's dissimilarity index (for White and Black residents) of 38.4 ranks 65th out of 79 in terms of segregation" (pp.28). Please note this was stated in terms of segregation, whi

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 24th, 2011 8:39 PM

Claim #2: You previously claimed that "Oak Park continues to have the highest proportion of police officers to residents of almost any city in the state." There are approx. 800 communities with police dept's in IL. You have now changed your claim to only cities with over 40,000 residents, of which there are onky about 40 in IL, which is a decidedly different and more modest claim.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 24th, 2011 8:37 PM

Claim #1: The Revised IL Uniform Crime Reporting Program, operating under the FBI's National Incident Based Reporting System (NIBRS) criteria, became operational in 1992, and used to collect data in 1992 and 1993. In 1994, the use of NIBRS was discontinued and a new reporting procedure was implemented. I chose the starting year of 1994 to coincide with this new reporting procedure. As the 1994-2009 time period is longer than your 2005-09 period, it more accurately reflects long-term trends.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 24th, 2011 8:36 PM

@David Pope: you have not substantiated a single claim you previously made, nor have you proven any of my comments as factually incorrect. Instead, you have simply revised your previous comments to that of something else, reframing the discussion with a different set of claims, and misrepresented my stated facts. My point remains that your initial claims were full of hyperbole and embellishment. I provided my comments in detail and cited references, for those who truly want to check the facts.

Cheerleader  

Posted: July 24th, 2011 6:33 PM

I love love love love it. HA HA HA HA. Go David, Go David Go David. As Harry Carry would say. "Holy Cow!" He knocked it right out of the old ball park. Kaboooom

epic lulz  

Posted: July 24th, 2011 6:05 PM

Thanks to Mr. Pope for taking the time to clear up Enuf's misinfo. I have many disagreements with Mr. Pope, but I fully agree with this letter and share the goal of pushing back against fear-of-crime mongers.

South oak park   

Posted: July 24th, 2011 5:46 PM

This is such an excellent letter. My husband and I had a list of qualities we wanted in a community when we were looking for a house. (we are not originally from Chicagoland.) I still have that list. "Walking" neighborhoods with sidewalks. Diversity of race and income. Public transportation. Good neighborhood schools, value education. Strong communities with a mix of generations and family types. Everyone has their own priority list and that's good - but this village suits us perfectly.

David Pope from Oak Park  

Posted: July 24th, 2011 5:33 PM

Further, when you take the analysis to the Census block level (which exists for the 2000 data and will soon enough for the 2010 data), and when you factor in how closely the population reflects the racial composition of the associated county and Metropolitan Statistical Area, Oak Park is actually tops in the state. Again, hardly "moderate".

David Pope from Oak Park  

Posted: July 24th, 2011 5:32 PM

His "Claim 3" comment that "OP only has a moderate dissimilarity index (for White and Black residents) of 38.4" reflects a complete misunderstanding of dissimilarity index analysis. For communities like Oak Park that place a high value on diversity throughout the entire community, the lower this number is the better. He seems to think that being 65th out of 79 is a bad thing. In fact, being 65th means that we're in the top 15 in the state (hardly "moderate").

David Pope from Oak Park  

Posted: July 24th, 2011 5:30 PM

Joliet (1.78), Lombard (1.58), Moline (1.93), Mt. Prospect (1.68), Naperville (1.28), Normal (1.48), Oak Lawn (1.94), Orland Park (1.73), Palatine (1.67), Peoria (2.08), Quincy (1.90), Rockford (1.80), Schaumburg (1.63), Skokie (1.64), Tinley Park (1.27), Waukegan (1.61), Wheaton (1.21)

David Pope from Oak Park  

Posted: July 24th, 2011 5:29 PM

Arlington Hts. (1.53), Aurora (1.71), Bartlett (1.24), Belleville (1.95), Berwyn (2.10), Bloomington (1.65), Bolingbrook (1.54), Buffalo Grove (1.63), Carol Stream (1.60), Champaign (1.49), Cicero (1.84), Crystal Lake (1.54), Decatur (2.14), Des Plaines (1.75), Downers Grove (1.61), Elgin (1.67), Elmhurst (1.49), Evanston (2.11), Glenview (1.57), Hoffman Estates (1.87), (cont'd.)

David Pope from Oak Park  

Posted: July 24th, 2011 5:28 PM

His "Claim 2" comment dramatically misrepresents the facts. The 2.34 officers per 1000 residents that Enuf concedes to Oak Park is, in fact, higher than EVERY other city > 40,000 population in the entire state (as highlighted in my original piece) other than Chicago. Chicago's dramatically high concentration skews the statewide avg. but doesn't change this core fact. For reference here are ratios of officers/1000 residents for ALL cities above 40,000 population (note all are

David Pope from Oak Park  

Posted: July 24th, 2011 5:27 PM

Oak Park's crime rate is down 30% since 2004. By comparison, from 2004 through 2009 (the last date for which IL stats are available), the declines for each of the following jurisdictions are as follows: Illinois (12.20%); Chicago (13.11%); Suburban Cook County (12.54%); Collar Counties (9.68%); Other Illinois Urban Counties (4.89%). "Enuf is Enuf" seems to want to conveniently ignore the reality that Oak Park crime rates have dropped far more than the region as a whole. (cont%u20

David Pope from Oak Park  

Posted: July 24th, 2011 5:26 PM

"Enuf is Enuf" makes a number of comments below that are just factually incorrect. Regarding "Claim 1" his starting date of 1994 conveniently excludes the drop of 15% that occurred from Oak Park's highest crime rate (in 1991) through 1994. Even more blatant, he ignores the 6 year timeframe (from the end of 2004 through today) that I directly referenced in the article. (cont'd.)

Resident  

Posted: July 24th, 2011 2:06 PM

Oak Park PR?? Clearly you dont know Mr Pope. What he said was is personal views. I think his public view would be in line with his personal. No? This isnt Gary, IN where the crime is high but the mayor cheer leads behind his office. Like I said, Mr. Pope walks the walk.

John Hubbuch from Oak Park  

Posted: July 24th, 2011 10:27 AM

I liked Mr. Pope's essay especially the beginning where he wrote about reading and liking my column. I will definitely vote for him if he runs for office again. I've lived in Oak Park since 1976, and plan to live here for a long time. I wish my taxes and crime rate were lower, but I value more the diversity, transportation, proximity to downtown, etc. Plus almost all my friends and children live near here. I'm very blessed to live where I want to.Not all are.

Violet Aura  

Posted: July 23rd, 2011 1:59 PM

As the tax rates go thru the roof, it seems that OP is destined to be another Naperville if we don't watch it. Where are all the pinko hippie throwbacks? What about the crunchy-granola earth mothers? I am a bit dismayed at seeing more Vicram finger sneakers than Birkenstocks these days! Oh the humanity!

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: July 23rd, 2011 1:48 PM

RESIDENT - My reasons for living in Oak Park are different than many. That does not mean I do not enjoy living in Oak Park. I have no wishes or intentions to move. David Pope was expressing his opinion and I do not want to write too much into it, but his description of Oak Park only represented part of OP's view. Great sales letter but lacked objectivity. It is hard at times to identify when a elected official is expressing a personal or public view. This time his post sounded like OP PR.

Farmers' Market? Really? from OP  

Posted: July 23rd, 2011 9:13 AM

@Resident: What is it we should be looking for at the Farmers' Market (I'm getting ready to go right now)? Overpriced produce? Pretentious suburbanites? Donuts? I like the Farmers' market, but don't see it as the pinnacle of anything in OP. I genuinely want to learn and see what you see...help us all out a bit...

Resident  

Posted: July 23rd, 2011 1:21 AM

It works for me. Even in 2011. If not so much for you- thats too bad. Why stay? How long will you give it? At least you have faith in the future. I dont care what or who is someone elses cup o tea. I know what I like. It seems that OP is doing alot right and thats why people enjoy and move here.

john murtagh from oak park  

Posted: July 23rd, 2011 1:15 AM

Touting OP's idyllic history and culture is a denial of 2011 reality. Not everyone thinks the Farmers Market, the 4th of July Parade, Day in Our Village, the walking & biking spiritualism, etc. are their cup of tea. Yet any time someone questions OP, they are preached to about the wonders of the greatest community in the U.S. It may have been the greatest, it may be again, but in 2011 its greatness is questionable. The constant barrage of self-congratulatory platitudes is a dangerous fantasy.

John Murtagh from oak park  

Posted: July 23rd, 2011 1:14 AM

Touting OP's idyllic history and culture is a denial of 2011 reality. Not everyone thinks the Farmers Market, the 4th of July Parade, Day in Our Village, the walking & biking spiritualism, etc. are their cup of tea. Yet any time someone questions OP, they are preached to about the wonders of the greatest community in the U.S. It may have been the greatest, it may be again, but in 2011 its greatness is questionable. The constant barrage of self-congratulatory platitudes is a dangerous fan

Resident  

Posted: July 22nd, 2011 11:37 PM

Go to the Farmers Market tomorrow and you'll see why I live in Oak Park.

Concerned Villager from OP  

Posted: July 22nd, 2011 3:55 PM

I appreciate both the facts from Enuf and the cheerleading from Mr. Pope. Both are necessary. Oak Park is a terrific village, but one that also has a variety of serious issues lurking just beneath the surface. We must be honest with ourselves and our problems to prevent and overcome the issues, rather than just patting ourselves on the back because "we're such a special community." What should make us special is candor and honesty, not covering true problems in bluestones and streetlamps.

epic lulz  

Posted: July 22nd, 2011 3:45 PM

@Ironic, the OPPD is also warning residents not to keep their open at night BECAUSE OF the stifling heat. Yeah, ironic.

Facebook Verified  

Posted: July 22nd, 2011 3:27 PM

We must never forget that we live next to the West side of Chicago. I'd say we do alright considering how easy it is to gain access to and from OP. The fact that OP has so many public transit options is both a curse and a blessing. David is right on with this piece. Not only does he talk the talk, but he walks the walk.

Ironic...isn't it?  

Posted: July 22nd, 2011 2:23 PM

Kind of ironic this opinion piece comes out the same week that Oak Park Police are warning residents not to keep their windows open at night despite the stifling heat due to the possibility that criminals could enter through the open window!

Jim Coughlin  

Posted: July 20th, 2011 8:13 PM

Another example of top notch reporting by Enuf.

adele from op  

Posted: July 20th, 2011 7:39 PM

@enuf_Good to see data here. The more facts, squarely faced, allow serious people to have sober, non-hyperbolic, solution focused conversations.

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 20th, 2011 5:54 PM

CLAIM: 4 "Too many of us nurture fears for our children regarding the unknown and the uncontrollable ... ." FACT: According to a survey commissioned by the village, 23% of OP residents (or someone in their households) have been a victim of a crime within the past 12 months (2008), far above any comparable community benchmarks. (source: The National Citizen Survey, a collaborative effort between National Research Center, Inc. and the International City/County Management Association (ICM

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 20th, 2011 5:53 PM

CLAIM 3: Oak Park is statistically the most successfully diverse municipality in the entire U.S. (based on dissimilarity index analysis). FACT: In 2000, of the 79 municipalities in IL with populations exceeding 25,000 in IL, OP only has a moderate dissimilarity index (for White and Black residents) of 38.4, which ranks 65th out of 79 in terms of segregation. (source: Village of Oak Park, IL: Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice, by Mullin & Lonergan Assoc., Jan, 2010)

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 20th, 2011 5:52 PM

CLAIM 2: "Oak Park continues to have the highest proportion of police officers to residents of almost any city in the state." FACT: In 2009, Oak Park Police Dept. had an employment rate for sworn officers of 2.34 per 1,000 residents, lower than the state average of 2.8. (source: State of Illinois, Crime in Illinois 2009, Annual Uniform Crime Report)

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 20th, 2011 5:51 PM

CLAIM 1: "OP is safer today than it has been at any time in the last 40 years." FACT: Pope's claim needs to be seen in the context of national & state crime trends, which have been steadily decreasing for decades. Historical data shows that OP lags behind overall trends in decreased crime. For example, during 1994-2009, the Illinois crime index offense rate decreased 57.3%, while OP's crime index decreased by 48.4%. (source: State of IL, Crime in Illinois 2009, Annual Uniform

Enuf is Enuf from Oak Park  

Posted: July 20th, 2011 5:48 PM

While we all have made the choice to reside in OP for our own reasons, the village president should not disguise the reality of crime with false claims. Armed robbery and burglary/breaking or entering are Part I crimes that are more prevalent in OP than peer communities. The following (above) lists Pope's Claims vs. Fact. For more data, see Illinois State Police at www.isp.state.il.us/crime/ucrhome.cfm, and OP Police Dept. crime analysis and statistics at www.oak-park.us/Police/crime.cfm

G. Orwell  

Posted: July 20th, 2011 3:48 PM

"public safety challenges faced periodically by individual Oak Park residents" - Awesome politicalspeak! You see? There are no crime victims in Oak Park, only safety challenged individuals.

New to OP  

Posted: July 20th, 2011 2:51 PM

I just moved to Oak Park, and safety is a HUGE consideration of mine, but all the other advantages won me over. Ive been studying the crime blotter for some time, and I agree that we need to stay focused on fighting crime, and maybe that means security systems, making doors stronger, and more police presence etc... I think crime will stay the same lolng term unless things improve in Austin and Maywood, but until then we need to make it as hard as possible for cir inals to take advantage of us.

jo  

Posted: July 20th, 2011 1:31 PM

I agree with Kelly. Crime is lower, but it's not insignificant and just a function of people thinking this is Mayberry, where we don't lock our doors. I do, and so does just about everyone I know. And you know what? Those nasty burglars seem to be good at kicking down doors and breaking locks. It is true that there is a lot to love about OP and that crime is just one factor, but it's not insignificant.

Kelly  

Posted: July 20th, 2011 1:21 PM

Crime may be lower than it used to be in Oak Park, but it is a very real concern. I can't help but feel insulted by your suggestion that I am foolish to be worried about crime because most crimes here are preventable if we just locked our bikes and doors. My door was locked when someone broke into my house. Let's not romanticize what it's like to live here. It's really not fair to my kids who still worry about someone breaking into our house again.

jo  

Posted: July 20th, 2011 12:41 PM

Thanks for your letter, David. I agree with so much that you have written here, with the exception of the part about the unlocked bikes thing. Not to nitpick, but Oak Park appears to be a bike bazaar for unsavory types, and locked bikes are stolen all the time, as are bikes stolen from locked garages. The only way to keep your bike really safe is to lock your bike in a locked garage, to an anchored bolt. It's sad to have to lock your bike like it's Fort Knox. But as crime goes, it's minor.

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