Hanover Park attained a record-low crime rate for an eighth consecutive year in 2017, a fact Mayor Rod Craig attributes to the village's community policing initiative and improved communication with residents.
"We made a concerted effort 10 years ago to invest in community policing," Craig said. "We're building a relationship between our police department and the people who live in our community."
This includes a police presence in schools, on the streets and at special events and festivals intended to make interactions with officers feel friendly and normal, Craig added.
The department also employs an outreach initiative called Police and Citizens Connected, which uses social media to enhance communication with residents.
The new statistics, along with Hanover Park recently being named 34th on Neighborhood Scout's list of America's Top 100 Safest Cities, are another reason for the village to feel pride on its 60th anniversary this year, Craig said.
"I think we're blessed in so many ways," he said. "I think we're in a great place. I'm ecstatic that we're finding ways to reduce crime."
The all-time-low rate in 2017 was seen in Part I Crime, the benchmark used by the FBI to determine a municipality's crime rate. The two general categories under Part I are property crimes and violent crimes.
Hanover Park recorded 279 Part I Crimes in 2017, a drop from 295 in 2016. Among the 2017 crimes, more than 84 percent were property-related, while violent crime decreased by 10 percent from the year before.
Deputy Police Chief Andy Johnson said that even apart from the statistical evidence, the level of crime feels much lower in recent years from when he joined the department 19 years ago. The key differences he sees are in the department's staffing levels and the way officers police.
"We're definitely closer to the community than we were when I first started," Johnson said.
Police Chief Michael Menough expressed the department's satisfaction with the drop in crime in a written statement.
"We are extremely pleased with this result and would like to thank our residents, business community, schools, and other stakeholders for working with us to keep Hanover Park safe," Menough wrote. "Going forward, we will continue to prioritize community outreach, intelligence-driven crime control strategies, and community partnership building to keep our department progressive and successful."