In tough times, there’s usually a lot of talk about doing things differently, about efficiency and innovation, doing more with less. Seldom, though, do we see it actually happen, especially in government.

We’d make the case that true change is under way in the police departments of Oak Park and River Forest. Embracing both technology and collaboration, police chiefs Rick Tanksley and Frank Limon are stretching resources and deploying their limited forces more effectively.

Here are examples:

River Forest is investing a half million dollars from its TIF fund into an elaborate, state-of-the-art camera surveillance system at River Forest Town Center, a relative hub of petty crime. This ties directly to Limon’s big-city experience in Chicago.

Both departments are members of WEDGE, a consortium of west suburban departments pooling officers to take on larger gang, drug-related crime and burglary issues.

Now Oak Park and River Forest are forming FOREcast, a four-town co-op with Forest Park and Elmwood Park, to formally share information about crime trends and patterns.

Both departments are genuinely adopting a problem-oriented policing philosophy that involves far greater focus on using data to determine likely criminal actions.

This is 21st century policing in our hometowns.

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