By Joe Boyle
Palos Hills does not have the lowest crime rate in the state.
However, residents and local officials are not disappointed. Palos Hills may not be number one, but the fourth-lowest crime rate in the state is a worthwhile achievement.
Mayor Gerald Bennett made the announcement during the city council meeting on March 5. Bennett was proud that the city has a low crime rate year in and year out.
“We have the fourth-lowest crime rate in Illinois and that is something to be proud of," Bennett said. "The reason for the low crime rate is that our police department is keeping control of the city. They just do a great job.”
Palos Hills annually has the lowest crime rate in the state, according to National Council Safest Cities in Illinois. However, the state's crime situation has had mixed results. The property crime rate in Illinois is slightly below the national rate, while the state's violent crime rate is about 10 percent higher than national levels, according to statistics.
The statewide violent crime rate is elevated by high crime in Chicago, which has been plagued by violent crime nearly three times the national rate, according to Safest Cities Illinois.
In contrast, many Illinois communities achieved remarkably low crime rates in 2018, with each of the state's five safest cities experiencing about a quarter of the statewide average of violent crime, or less.
Bennett and the city's police department has become concerned the past few months over a rise in perpetrators entering unlocked vehicles to steal a variety of valuables. The mayor said these are crimes that are preventable by just locking the doors of vehicles.
Palos Hills is not the only community reporting a rise in car break-ins and in most cases, perpetrators just enter because the doors are not locked.
"We will have signs posted throughout the city to remind residents to lock their cars," Bennett said.
But besides these recent incidents, crime is low in Palos Hills. The city was 11th in the Safest Cities in Illinois list for 2019. Low crime rate statistics is something that Bennett has become used to.
“For the past 25 to 30 years we are usually in the top 10 or top 20," Bennett said. "We have always had low crime and our police department is one of the main reasons.”
Palos Hills recorded a violent crime rate of about one offense per 1,000 people in 2018, which is just 25 percent of the Illinois rate. Palos Hills' property crime rate is impressive as well, according to Safest Cities, at 4.84 per 1,000.
The lowest crime rate in the state was registered by Campton Hills, which is located in Kane County. They were followed by Channahon, which is just outside Joliet. Palentine had the third lowest figures. Hanover Park had the fifth lowest crime rate, according to Safest Cities.
In other news discussed at the Palos Hills City Council meeting, a $200,000 grant that was applied to through the state will go for a play area near the detention pond in Bennett Park. Public bathrooms will be built near the new public works building at the entrance of the park. The mayor and board members said they will not be portable units.
A pavilion should be going up by the end of March, Bennett said, if weather permits.
A pollinator garden will be added to the experience at Bennett Park. Grant money is being sought to help complete the project.
Master gardeners will be assisting in the upkeep of the pollinator garden, according to Kristin Violante, the director of the city's Resource and Recreation Department.