Sports analysts like to go “inside the numbers” to support a point and so does Oak Lawn Village Manager Larry Deetjen.
“Let’s talk facts. The facts are, we do not have a rising crime rate in Oak Lawn,” Deetjen said.
And the village manager seemingly has the number to support his contention.
There were 112 burglaries in the village in 2013 compared to 96 through September 2014, Deetjen said. The numbers are comparable to 2000, when the village experienced 101 burglaries, he said.
Deetjen finds himself discussing crime statistics following Trustee Robert Streit’s recent remarks regarding the number of burglaries in Oak Lawn during September.
Streit said at the Oct. 14 village board meeting that his review of police reports indicated that there were 25 burglaries during a 28-day period last month.
He believes an increase in patrol officers is an “obvious solution” to the problem.
“Every day more than 30 percent of the police force that is on duty is not on patrol,” Streit said.
He suggested rotating into the patrol roster police officers from other divisions, such as investigations. He added that the officers would welcome the opportunity to go on patrol, and the regular patrol officers would appreciate the support.
“I believe this would go a long way toward making our community safer,” Streit said. “To me, it makes common sense.”
Deetjen does not support the idea, saying non-patrol officers are committed to other responsibilities.
“It’s a subject to talk about, sure,” Deetjen said. “I think our patrol officers do an excellent job. There is no spike (in crime). We don’t have a spike.”
Deetjen also said that while Streit portrayed September as a high-crime month, he failed to mention that “the vast majority (of burglaries) were in garages.”
Additionally, he said, police recently arrested a man they believe responsible for several garage burglaries.
Deetjen said taking a snapshot of a single month’s crime activity is not the appropriate way to measure it. Rather, he said, the village relies on the FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Report.
But Streit said the number of burglaries is not important.
“Larry misses the point,” Streit said. “It’s really not about is my number right, is Larry’s number right. People don’t feel safer.”
He added that a string of burglaries—home, car or business—indicates that criminals do not fear operating in the village because the police presence is not sufficient.
“I think it would be a huge mistake to dismiss the increase in burglaries,” Streit said.