Dear Oak Parkers:

Use your common sense this April. Don’t vote for well-meaning but misguided souls calling for defunding the Oak Park Police Department. Vote “No” on the defunding referendum question on the ballot. Base your decisions on facts. Do not be swayed by diatribes based in raw emotion and misdirected anger, rather than reality.

The crime rate went up 10% from 2019 to 2020, and 84% of the crimes committed in Oak Park are committed by non-residents. We need more police not less. The police have been trained in de-escalation techniques. Also, they work with social workers trained to work with those who have mental illnesses. One hundred and fifty social service agencies serve Oak Park. We don’t need to divert funds from the police for more social programs. 

As for complaints against police officers, the police department gets about 12-15 complaints a year. Virtually none are related to use of force. No Oak Park police officer has discharged a gun in the past decade.

In the interests of full disclosure, I don’t live in Oak Park. I moved to River Forest a few months ago. But before that, I had been an Oak Park resident since 1958. So in my heart, I still care deeply about Oak Park. I fervently pray that sensible and caring voters will prevail in April.

Louise Mezzatesta, River Forest

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