As we all know, griping in the local press via letters to the editor is one of our key community pastimes. Let’s face it, we’re a town that thrives on stirring the cauldron of controversy. But I was dismayed by the letter from Maurice, Marie, Sylvia, and Alberto Afonso [Better citizen oversight of police needed, Viewpoints, Dec. 21] that is so severely critical and accusatory of our entire police department. The harsh spin and sweeping generalizations these four writers put on Oak Park’s finest make it sound like we’re living in some corrupt cesspool where there is little law and order. Yes, admittedly there have been some incidents in which a few officers used poor judgment. These unfortunate situations are all being addressed. But for us to attack our entire police force for the transgressions of a few “bad apples” is unfair and unwarranted.
The Afonsos say of our cops “at least 5-10 percent of them are no good.” I’m curious what scientific instrument they employed to arrive at that fascinating figure. If I didn’t know this community, I would think the writers’ remarks were more applicable to some Third World banana republic or possibly Alabama in the ’50s.
Let’s have a reality check, guys. Yes, the police blotter in these pages can sometimes be disturbing. And yes, perhaps our “meter maids” are a bit overzealous and too quick on the draw. That’s another issue for another letter. But in case you haven’t noticed, the eastern edge of our community borders one of the highest crime areas in the entire region. Those quaintly annoying 1970s cul-de-sacs along Austin Boulevard are not protective shields that stop all the spillover crime that rolls across our border zone like a veritable West Side tsunami. Our police officers do.
Oak Park officers are a vigilant and aggressive force of professional men and women who work diligently to keep this village safe and secure. They contribute so much to our community we should salute and celebrate them, not slam and belittle them because of a handful of misguided individuals who’ve done wrong. Look around you, folks. Our cops, from the school crossing guards to the beat cops in the neighborhoods, are doing a positive job. In the nearly four decades I’ve lived in this village I have never witnessed anything but the highest degree of cooperation, professionalism, and ethical behavior from our officers. Hey, let’s show some appreciation.