It is a snapshot. We get that. But the 2014 snapshot of crime incidents in Forest Park, as reflected in the annual Uniform Crime Report submitted by local cops to the state police, is a good one.

Crime continues to drop in Forest Park across a range of categories, including property crime, burglary and auto theft. There was an odd and disconcerting spike in sexual assaults in 2014, with six such cases reported compared to zero in 2013. But that is the nature of an annual report. We also can’t explain why auto thefts dropped from 54 to 31 in the village, though it is intriguing to hear Deputy Chief Tom Aftanas report that “stealing cars just isn’t as popular as it used to be.” 

What we can explain is that in Forest Park, local police get solid credit for improving policing techniques and results in a time when resources are static. Combined with a better-heard message that community and cops are in this fight together, we have a snapshot for 2014 that is encouraging.

 A crucial election

Forest Parkers have been complaining about the wholesale decline of the high schools in Proviso Township for 45 years. That’s a lot of generations of failing education, loud griping and very little productive action.

This year has the potential to be different and the response of Forest Park voters is likely to be central in determining the outcome of the April election for the District 209 school board.

Partly, that is because there are two Forest Parkers running for the school board. Partly, it is because they have aligned with a Maywood school board veteran who could join them in creating an independent majority on the school board. Partly, it is because this slate is not running hard against the rest of Proviso Township but is instead building alliances of equally frustrated parents across this diverse collection of suburbs.

While all of the candidates for the Proviso school board are working hard at meet-and-greets, cultivating their faithful, there are not many opportunities to see all of the candidates on one stage, answering direct questions. As we have for decades, the Review and the Forest Park Chamber of Commerce and Development are partnering again this year to host candidate forums. This year there will be two events. The first, on Wednesday, March 11, will focus entirely on the exciting race for Proviso District 209. And for this forum, we are pleased to add a third sponsor in the Village Free Press, a well-thought-of news blog based in Maywood.

The following week, on Thursday, March 19, the Chamber and Review will host a forum for Forest Park’s two mayoral candidates and five village council candidates. That event will be split into two portions with one focusing on the mayoral race and the other featuring council candidates.

As always, our forums will be hosted at District 91’s Forest Park Middle School. 925 Beloit Ave. Doors open at 6 p.m. with the forum getting underway at 6:30 p.m.