The news Sunday that Oak Park and its police department is joining a carjacking task force headed out of the city by Chicago Police is good news. The task force will also include the Cook County State’s Attorney, the Illinois State Police and federal agencies and prosecutors.
The unnerving raft of carjackings in 2017 and cresting into this new year in all parts of Oak Park is clearly not a home-grown crime wave. Perpetrators caught so far — and our police force has nabbed a large number of suspects — are largely young people out of the city. So this fight cannot be waged in our own limited geography; it must be joined by other jurisdictions and at multiple levels of the justice system.
Ten days ago, Mayor Anan Abu-Taleb spoke clearly in a Journal interview about the village government’s clear intention to fully prosecute anyone alleged to have taken part in a carjacking in Oak Park. It was interesting to hear Chicago Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson echo that determination in his comments Sunday. Despite the youth of most of those charged so far, both Abu-Taleb and Johnson made clear they see strong prosecution as a key way to deter more carjackings.
While crime in Oak Park has inched up the past two years, the village overall has enjoyed decades of improved safety. But these carjackings are peculiarly disturbing to the village’s collective psyche. A continued strong response is essential.