Police chief: Lockport safer than people think

Frank VaisvilasDaily Southtown
Lockport is among the safest places in Illinois despite what some people may post on social media, said the city’s Police Chief Terry Lemming.
“This is a very safe town,” said Lemming during a City Council committee meeting last Wednesday night. “People make it seem worse than what it really is.”
Lemming gave a presentation at the meeting showing that serious crime was down by more than 21 percent in 2015 from 2014 in the city.
He said some people had posted comments recently on social media pages expressing serious concerns about safety in the city.

But Mayor Steven Streit said those concerns were mostly based on two dramatic alleged crimes that later turned out to be false reports.
“Everyone got riled up,” Lemming said.
Last month, a woman was charged with making a false report for alleging that she had been attacked and robbed while walking down a street in Lockport.
Around the same time, Lemming said a juvenile had falsely reported that a man was in her house with a gun.
“As reports of this type of falsely reported crime are circulated, there is also an unjustified sense of panic that may spread through the population in the area of the reported crime,” read a Lockport police statement on Jan. 15.

Lockport was recently ranked the 81st safest place in Illinois out of 298 communities with populations over 5,000 by ValuePenguin.com, which uses FBI crime data.
The city ranked just below Shorewood and just above New Lenox in safety. Lockport’s neighbor to north, Lemont, ranked 122nd but its neighbor to the east, Homer Glen, ranked 21st.
Lemming said serious crimes, such as thefts and burglaries, decreased in 2015.
But six criminal sexual assaults were reported in 2015 compared with three in 2014. Lemming said the cases usually involve the victim knowing their attacker.
Motor vehicle thefts decreased to six in 2015 compared with seven in 2014. Lemming said 20 years ago there might have been as many 50 vehicle thefts but he said modern cars are virtually theft-proof. If they are stolen, Lemming said it usually involves the vehicle owner lending their car to someone who did not return it.
There were no homicides reported in the city, which does not include the unincorporated Fairmont neighborhood, in 2015. Homicides were reported recently in Fairmont.
Less serious crimes, such as identity theft and marijuana possession have increased slightly in the city.
Traffic citations also have increased from 4,490 in 2014 to 6,492 in 2015.
Lemming said the increase in traffic enforcement is part of a concerted effort by police.
“Having an aggressive traffic enforcement program does not endear police officers to the community but it is proven to reduce serious and fatal crashes and pedestrians being struck by vehicles,” he said. “It is also a proven way to prevent and lower the crime rate.”
Lemming said the increase in traffic violations also led to an increase in marijuana violations.
He said increased patrols also help prevent crime. One example, Lemming said, was that 250 open residential doors were located by officers in 2015, which might have prevented burglaries.