Ald. Bernick Can’t Rain On Low Crime Parade


Want to know under what kind of weird-bordering-on-bizarre circumstances the announcement of the lowest Park Ridge crime rate in 5 years could provoke a grilling of the police chief by a Park Ridge alderman?

You’ll have to watch the City’s video of Monday night’s Council COW meeting (from 1:12:28 to approx. 1:21) to see for yourself, although don’t feel bad if you can’t quite figure out where that particular alderman is coming from.   

According to the Chief’s (Kaminski, not Illiniwek) 2011 Annual Report & Crime Comparison, Park Ridge’s “Index Crime Rate” for 2011 was the lowest it has been during the past five years, with a decline of 14.76% from 2010, and 12% less than in 2007.  That 2011 index rate is also 25% less than the high-crime year of 2008. 

That’s very good news, no matter how one looks at it.

While the crime rate declined, Kaminski reported a 9.7% increase in calls for police service, which he attributed to the department’s proactive community-policing initiative and an increase in public trust of the department.  That’s also a good thing.

Not surprisingly, six of our seven aldermen in attendance accepted that report with what seemed like quiet approbation. But one sounded like he was caught somewhere between disbelief and distrust.

Guess who?

If your answer was “Ald. Tom Bernick (6th),” smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.

First Bernick challenged Kaminski on what his department planned to do to address property crimes, which represent 95% of all Park Ridge crime.  Kaminski’s answer: get residents to lock their doors, because many of the burglaries reported involve thefts from unlocked homes and vehicles.


From there, Bernick questioned the reported reduction of drug crime, asking whether that’s the result of less enforcement.  Kaminski responded that there is not that much “street level” drug dealing and, therefore, fewer of those types of arrests.  Frankly, we would have expected Bernick’s inquiring mind to have followed up that answer with a question or two about drug enforcement in our schools. 

But Little Tommy was already off and running on his next topic: whether arrests are down because of a less-vigilant, less-efficient police department.  Kaminski rebutted that one by reiterating that arrests are down because crime is down, not only in Park Ridge but nationally.

Memo to Ald. Bernick: That’s not a “chicken and egg” situation.

After being rebuffed at every attempt to rain on Kaminski’s reduced crime parade, Bernick ended his mini-inquisition by explaining: “I didn’t want to look at these figures and then get the wrong perception that crime is down when, in reality, we weren’t making the arrests.”

We suspect there’s a clue or two in that statement about the real motivation behind Bernick’s questioning of the report.  And we suspect it has something to do with his “perception” about the police station and spending $1-plus million – or $2-3 million, when all is said and done ? – to address various “safety” concerns which, fortunately, don’t seem to be adversely affecting local crime or punishment.

Bernick’s bizarre reaction notwithstanding, Chief Kaminski’s report is not only welcome news, but it confirms what most Park Ridge residents already knew, or at least believed: that despite the pair of corpses that recently turned up, we live in a relatively safe and secure community.

And it would be even more secure if only we started locking our doors.

To read or post comments, click on title.

5 comments so far

What is his problem?

I didn’t see anything in the report that specified how many burglaries were of unlocked houses, garages or cars. Was that discussed?

EDITOR’S NOTE: That there’s more than one?

It wasn’t discussed, and we didn’t see such a figure. That really would be an interesting one to know, assuming the PRPD keeps a record of that in some readily accessible fashion.

If you read the Police Blotter in the Herald-Advocate, practically every theft listed is from an unlocked vehicle, locker at the community center, and often from an unlocked home. And these knuckleheads always seem to leave things like laptops, wallets, purses, etc. in plain view in unlocked cars!

EDITOR’S NOTE: Exactly. Makes us wonder if there’s some Facebook page for burglars that rates Park Ridge as a three-star venue, with a “review” that reads: “Town filled with knuckleheads who leave doors unlocked and valuables unattended.”

Why you bustin’ little Tommy? His motive may or may not have been “bad” but the question was sound. Fewer reports and arrests do not necessarily mean less crime. For example, there’s a widespread perception that child molestation, date rape and other crimes against persons have increased exponentially in these immoral modern times. In fact, up until the 1970s children and women were blamed for being victims and were advised, overtly or covertly, to keep silent. The explosion in reported crimes just means the culture has matured and the truth is tolerated. There has been some talk in town that after all the bad press and lawsuits about police mistreatment of minors, that the police have not been as rigorous. I happen to believe they are just as rigorous about pursuing criminals, they’re just less likely now to whomp them upside the head. But if nobody asks the question Bernick asked, how’d we know?

EDITOR’S NOTE: We’re “bustin’ Little Tommy” because his questions sounded as if they were intended to elicit particular answers, like the cross-examination of an adverse/hostile witness. And burglaries and other property crimes are not even remotely comparable to the “sex” crimes you describe, as there rarely – if ever – has been any stigma attached to being a victim of the former.

“like the cross-examination of an adverse/hostile witness”?


That’s all the writer of this blog ever does. Talk about living in a glass house and throwing stones.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Nice try, but that opportunity is not available to those not sitting around The Horseshoe.

One must also understand the UCR system.
That’s the uniform crime reporting system.
Note to Ald. B : There are two types of crimes
1). Reported and 2). Non – Reported.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Are you suggesting residents don’t report crime, or City officials don’t?

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