Oak Lawn Village Manager Larry Deetjen recently lashed out at unspecified “on-line blogs” and other sources of information that he urged residents not to trust, claiming that crime in Oak Lawn is exactly the same as it was in the year 2000.
Deetjen, speaking directly to the camera, at the September 22, 2015 Board of Trustees Meeting, made the following statement:
Oak Lawn’s crime rate is no different than it was in the year 2000. Let me repeat, no different than it was in the year 2000. Now these statistics are provided by your Federal Bureau of Investigation that tracks and requires every police department from the US Department of Justice they are overseen to provide those statistics. Oak Lawn, like Orland, like Tinley provides those statistics every year to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. One can go on, one can Google it…you can compare any city…
However, a closer look at the statistics reported to the Illinois State Police and Federal Bureau of Investigation from the years 2000 through 2015 tell a different story and contradict Deetjen’s claim that he repeated for effect into the camera at a board meeting.
In the year 2000, there were no homicides but in 2014 there were three reported murders. 2014 is the last available year for the police reports since 2015 has not ended.
In addition to the unusual murders, Oak Lawn reported only 3 sexual assaults in 2000 but the number skyrocketed to 12 in 2014. The issue of sexual assaults and the right of the public to know has been at the center of a debate between Trustee Robert Streit and Mayor Sandra Bury with Streit asking the board to release all police reports to the public.
Aggravated assaults and reported cases of battery were rare in 2000, with only 16 cases. However, in 2014, the number had increased to 41 cases. Arsons tripled from 2 to 6 in the years 2000 to 2014.
Some crimes did decrease during the time period cited by Deetjen, including burglaries, motor vehicle thefts, and theft. Burglary reports hit an all time high in the year 2000 with 201 recorded incidents.
Deetjen’s attack on reports of an increase in crime came at the regular Village Board Meeting on September 22nd. After Streit had noticed that Trustees were not provided all the police reports he asked for a clarification on why some reports were not provided despite the administration’s promise to provide all reports to all the Trustees.
Streit said that Deetjen’s statement is irrelevant although he said he’s not surprised that Deetjen was misleading the public. “It is clear that violent crimes such as murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault are up in Oak Lawn while nationally violent crime is down,” said Streit. Violent crime in Oak Lawn has increased from 2000 to 2014 by over 100 percent.
Streit is correct that nationally, violent crime continues to drop in America according to the latest statistics from the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Of the last 20 years, violent crime rose only during 1991, 2005 and 2006.
In 2010, Time Magazine examined the theories behind the drop in crime nationally since 1991. Noted socialist John Conklin, from Tufts University wrote a book, Why Crime Rates Fell and concluded that one single factor was behind at least half of the drop in crime. Conklin said the single factor was that the U.S. Prison population grew during the same time period and continues to grow. With more people in prison, crime was reduced. Conklin compared crime in the 1960’s and 1970’s when “tough on crime” laws were few and far between and discovered that crime started to rise.
Streit said that the increase in violent crime is a problem considering the national trends and local trends. Yesterday, the Leaf broke down the crime statistics of neighboring communities showing that Oak Lawn saw increases that neighbors did not see.
“Why are we seeing an increase in violent crime when others are seeing a decrease?” Streit asked.