ValuePenguin’s analysis of the latest FBI crime statistics ranks every municipality with 5,000 or more people, one through 291, for “safety”. This year, Oak Lawn ranked 181, down from 165, based on the organization’s analysis and “crime score”.
Oak Lawn’s crime score was 1141 and scores for the various 291 communities ranged from 109 to 8,278. This score takes into account violent and property crime and adjusts it for population size.
None of the communities that were named the “five safest places in Illinois” are in the southwest suburbs of Chicago.
Chicago, despite the problems seen every day on the television news reports, was not the least safest city. In fact, that honor went to East St. Louis.
The 5 Safest Places in Illinois are Hawthorn Woods, Clarendon Hills, Campton Hills, Western Springs, and Hampshire. Only Western Springs is located in Cook County and Clarendon Hills is in nearby DuPage County.
In addition to East St. Louis, Rockford, Mt. Vernon, Springfield, and Danville make up the bottom five communities for safety.
According to its website, “ValuePenguin.com is a personal finance website that conducts in-depth research & analysis on a variety of topics from insurance, to credit cards, to everyday spending. We focus on helping consumers make better decisions when it comes to investing their time and money.”
The website also claims, “Our mission is to help our users make the most well informed decisions.”
The organization did not measure firefighting or paramedic services in computing safety, making the review narrowly focused on crime. Oak Lawn enjoys a full time fire department and highly ranked paramedic services. Likewise, emergency management offices were not considered in the rankings.
In 2015, Oak Lawn was ranked as number 165 before falling this year 16 more places. In October of 2015, Trustee Robert Streit and Mayor Sandra Bury engaged in a public debate over increasing crime.
Oak Lawn Trustee Robert Streit and Mayor Sandra Bury debated the public’s right to know about increases in crime. Streit claimed the public has a right to know. Bury argued that the disclosure is not necessary in many cases.
Village Manager Larry Deetjen and Police Chief Michael Murray supported the administration decision to not release some of the police reports. Deetjen claimed that despite recent published FBI statistics to the contrary, crime had not increased in Oak Lawn.
After Deetjen spoke, Police Chief Mike Murray spoke, claiming that most of the rapes were committed against women in their own homes by people they knew or met at a “drinking party”.
Streit said that it was also important that the residents are aware of any increase in crime. “If there is an increase in let’s say sexual offenses, if the public doesn’t know about it they can’t protect themselves,” said Streit.
Streit directly challenged Bury to release all of the police reports several times stating, “I know you don’t want the public to know.” He said that Bury doesn’t want to be held accountable for her record as Mayor but she defended her record stating “I’m so proud of my record and the record of this board.”
Streit again told the Mayor that “the public has a right to know and I know you don’t think they have a right to know.” Streit said that even though the Mayor doesn’t think the public should have access to police reports, he believes that the reports are public records and that the public believes they have a right to the information.
Streit, who has been a Trustee since 1991, said that the Trustees always received reports in their districts and in April of 2014 he requested all of the reports. At that time, the administration agreed to provide all police reports to every Trustee. However, he said he tracked the reports and it became clear that the all reports were not being given and questioned why the reports were being withheld.
After first agreeing at a Village Board Meeting that all reports should be made public, Bury sent an email to all of the Trustees stating that several categories of police reports, including domestic violence crimes, car accidents, and rapes were not made public.