In 2004, Forest Park experienced an overall decrease in all categories of major crime, according to the Illinois State Police Unified Crime Reporting statistics.
According to the index there was an 18.9 percent decrease in the total crime index in Forest Park, which also experienced a 48 percent decrease in robberies, a 33 percent decrease in motor vehicle thefts and a 12 percent decrease in burglaries from 2003 to 2004.
“I attribute this to aggressive officers,” said Forest Park Police Chief Jim Ryan. “We have an enthusiastic number of police officers and a lot of people who commit crimes know that Forest Park has a reputation for not being a place to commit crimes because the chance of getting apprehended is high.”
In addition to the State Police Report, the Forest Park Police Department also released its January 2005 statistics, showing a decrease in crime, month over month, when compared to January 2004.
According to the report, the Forest Park Police began its year with the notable capture of Paul Cruikshank, the alleged Wrigleyville rapist on the first day of the year.
From there, the police department went on to open 28 new cases and clear 22 cases from the investigations division, including an investigation into and capture of a suspect wanted for allegedly assaulting a 16-year-old female.
According to the report, the majority of crimes in Forest Park in January occurred on Monday and Saturday and are concentrated in police beats two and four.
Beat two has the highest concentration of calls with 261 calls or 32 percent.
Beat four has the second highest concentration of calls, with 240 calls, or 30 percent.
“The Eisenhower Expressway divides beats one and two between beats three and four,” said Ryan. “Two is Madison Street and four is the Roosevelt Road corridor where the Wal-Mart and the K-Mart are.”
In beat four, he added, the majority of the activity is in the retail theft category.
Ryan added that the division of beats allows his officers to use a “team policing concept, where cars covering beats one and two can work together.” The same occurs in beats three and four.
Ryan said the Monday and Saturday prevalence of crimes is due to, at least on Saturday, the bar business in Forest Park.
“Monday is just naturally busy,” Ryan said. “There is no specific pattern , it is just very active.”
The most prevalent categories of crimes in the village during January were retail theft, with 13 incidents, criminal damage to property, with 17 incidents, and hit and runs, with 21 incidents.
The high incidence of hit and runs which often involve cars sliding into each other, Ryan said “are probably due to the weather conditions because of the ice and snow.”
The criminal damage incidence, Ryan said, is due mostly to a graffiti issue, which his department is addressing.
“A lot seem to be wannabe gang members,” Ryan said. “I have assigned an officer to put together more gang intelligence, on where they are active and where the graffiti is so we can assign officers to those specific areas.”
Another category of note is the number of premise checks the officers responded to in January (17) and the number of officer initiated premise checks they did (23).
The officer initiated checks, Ryan said, are a courtesy the department extends to local business owners.
“Officers on midnight shift check businesses periodically,” Ryan said. The officers look to ensure doors are locked and everything is in order.
They also initiate courtesy checks while businesses are open to “develop relationships with the owners,” Ryan said.
Certain officers are also dispatched to more calls, which Ryan attributes to the officer’s aggressive nature and to certain shifts, such as the evening shift, that simply receive more calls.
Officer Marcin Scislowicz, for example handled the most calls in January for a total of 147 dispatches out of the 1,937 the department handled.
During the day, the police receive more calls between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Monday through Saturday and on Sunday calls are more prevalent from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.
Monday most calls occur between 3 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Ryan said there is no discernable pattern as of yet to explain these calls, but said the most crime in Forest Park is the result of out of town people who come in to certain corridors to commit retail theft.