Business owners are preparing for renovations along Roosevelt Road. While the new streetscape will be a big change for the area, many feel a police substation will be necessary to make shoppers feel safe. Business representative Paul Zimmermann met with Berwyn Police Chief Jim Ritz and Oak Park Deputy Chief Anthony Ambrose earlier this month to consider the possibilities of the idea. They discussed costs and potential locations for what they hope will be a shared substation between Berwyn, Oak Park, and Cicero police stations.
“It was a really good meeting,” Ritz said. “Everyone is on the same page, we will see what happens after Zimmermann meets with the association and we will go from there.”
Another meeting has yet to be scheduled. Ritz, Zimmermann and representatives from Oak Park and Cicero agree that a substation is necessary for the success of the area. Although three police departments would be sharing the cost, the police departments don’t have that kind of money in their budgets. How much the substation will cost and who will pay for it has yet to be determined. As for location, Zimmermann said most agree that the substation should be closer to the east end of the corridor, past Ridgeland, between Austin and the Chicago city limits. Zimmermann owns property in that area.
“I have a couple of storefronts and we’ve talked about how they could be configured for them [the police],” Zimmermann said. “We’re not trying to hit a pay day, we could give a discount, but we can’t do it for free.”
Roosevelt Road, which borders all three towns between Austin Boulevard and Harlem Avenue seems to be the perfect location for a multipurpose substation, Zimmermann said. The station would be accessible to all three departments, which have been working closely with each other for quite some time now. Through the collaboration, Ritz hopes to create an even stronger police presence in an area that has had several high profile robberies this year. Zimmermann said the crimes are a strong argument for more permanent police visibility in and around the area.
“I don’t understand what else it’s going to take to make the police substation happen,” Zimmermann said.
For now, the Berwyn Police Department is doing what they can to prevent crime along Roosevelt Road by continuing to have a strong police presence. In addition to increasing tactical and undercover vehicle patrolling, Berwyn police are also patrolling alleys and back streets on foot. The police also patrol with Segways and ATVs, especially on days of events and festivals.
“We want people to know that there’s always a presence out there, even if it’s not a marked car,” Ritz said.
But with Roosevelt Road undergoing this elaborate and expensive renovation and beautification, Zimmermann feels that a police presence is even more essential to the success of the area now that it is under renovation.
“If you just re-do the pretty stuff and don’t deal with the underlying issue there’s no point in doing the beautification,” Zimmermann said. “If you do the above groundwork, but the businesses won’t move in and the residents don’t feel safe going there, what’s the point?”
In addition to the increased patrols and talk of a substation, the Berwyn police department is taking other steps to improve the community. The department now has a Web site called Crime Reports, which allows residents to select a state, neighborhood and even a street so they can follow crimes both reported and filed in and around the area. The Web site also offers several additional forms of information, such as analytics so residents can follow the rise and fall of crime in particular areas. By doing this, the Berwyn Police Departments hopes to keep the community members informed with hopes of gaining their trust and support, Ritz said.
“We pushed hard for programs that give the public access so we can form relationships between the police and the community,” Ritz said.
Many people in and around Roosevelt Road think that the increase of patrol and easy access to public information has helped Berwyn. While Ritz said that Roosevelt Road is not a high crime area, the constant police patrol may be one of the reasons for this. While this may be working now, increased patrols by all three departments is not a permanent solution. According to Zimmermann, to ensure the level of police presence that will be needed on the new Roosevelt Road, police will need a substation where they can process reports, take calls, and access information. A police substation would give police a permanent presence, without having to make the back and forth commute to their “home” stations.
Life long Berwyn resident Bill Carroll said more police is always a good thing.
“I’m not opposed to a police substation in Berwyn,” Carroll said. “(An) increased police force is never a bad idea, for any community.”
As of now, Berwyn, Oak Park and Cicero police are waiting to hear back from Zimmermann about whether or not there’s room for a new police substation on Roosevelt Road. Zimmermann says he wants to meet with the village managers, mayors and presidents to see if there’s an outcome they can all agree upon.
“Were going to meet in the future to talk about where were at and where we want to go with the options we have presented,” Ritz said.
(Roosevelt Road at the intersection of Harlem Ave. and Roosevelt. The road boarders Cicero, Oak Park, and Berwyn)