What can fight crime? Preschools, report says. The more, the better.
The key to reducing crime across Illinois isn't more cops on the streets, bigger jails, tougher laws or harsher punishments.
It's better preschools, and more of them.
At least that's the finding of a new report backed by suburban law enforcement officials and political leaders. Released last week, "Illinois' Path to Prosperity: Boost Early Learning to Cut Costs and Curb Crime" says children who participate in a quality prekindergarten program are more likely to become high achievers later in life and less likely to be arrested for a violent crime.
The report was issued by Fight Crime: Invest in Kids Illinois, a bipartisan organization whose co-chairman is Lake County State's Attorney Mike Nerheim. Its executive committee includes Buffalo Grove Police Chief Steve Casstevens, Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon, Oak Brook Police Chief Jim Kruger, DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin and Crystal Lake Police Chief James Black.
"All the studies show that children who have access to quality early childhood education are far less likely to be involved in the criminal justice system," Nerheim told us. "One study showed that there's a 70% greater chance (for such involvement) by the age of 18 for someone who did not have a quality early education."
Thinking long term
The study's authors say Illinois gets failing grades when it comes to funding effective early education programs. About 95,000 eligible 3- and 4-year-olds are shut out of such programs because of a lack of public funding, and 42% of children entering kindergarten are unprepared for it in math, language and literacy and social-emotional development, according to the report.
To help change that, Fight Crime is asking for a big funding boost in the state's next capital budget - at least $250 million. The last capital budget, in 2009, awarded $45 million for such programs, not even 10% of the amount sought.
While that's a lot of money in a state plagued by unpaid bills, crumbling infrastructure and massive pension obligations, proponents say it'll pay off in big saving for a state that spends $2.3 billion a year on prisons and jails.
"It's really about investing long term, rather than waiting until there's a problem," Nerheim said. "We understand there's only so much (funding), but this early investment can save so much more down the road."
To see the full report, visit https://www.strongnation.org/articles/878-illinois-path-to-prosperity.
<h3 class="leadin">Remembering Trooper Lambert
The family of Illinois State Police trooper Christopher Lambert joined the agency's top brass, Gov. J.B. Pritzker and others in Springfield on Wednesday to add his name to the memorial wall in ISP Memorial Park.
Lambert, 34, of Highland Park, was killed Jan. 12 when he stopped to help drivers involved in a three-car crash on I-294 near Willow Road and was struck by a passing SUV. The Wisconsin man driving the Jeep Grand Cherokee faces a reckless homicide charge.
The ISP Memorial Park pays tribute to the life of Lambert and 69 state police officers killed in the line of duty.
Pritzker described Lambert as the embodiment of the best of the Illinois State Police.
"Up to the very end, Trooper Lambert put himself in harm's way to protect his fellow citizens," Pritzker said of the U.S. Army veteran who joined the state police in 2013. "That's who he had always been."
Holding the couple's 18-month-old daughter, Lambert's wife, Halley, later removed blue tape on the memorial wall to reveal her husband's name and his "End of Watch" date, Jan. 12, 2019.
She described how enthusiastic he was to go to work every day, and how he often returned home excited to share the details of his shift.
"His stories would often take longer to tell than the actual event he was telling me about," she said.
"Chris, we love you, we miss you and we're never going to forget you."
<h3 class="leadin">Get the scoop
Kane County State's Attorney Joe McMahon was thrust into the national spotlight last year when he led the successful prosecution of Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke for the October 2014 slaying of Laquan McDonald.
Now back to his regular duties as Kane County's top prosecutor, McMahon will discuss his experiences with the Van Dyke case Thursday, May 9, with members of the Elgin Breakfast Rotary Club.
The club gathers at 7:15 a.m. at the Grumpy Goat Restaurant, 875 Sports Way, Elgin. The club asks that those who want to attend RSVP by May 8 so a food count can be made, by calling club member Alan Kirk at (847) 815-4895 or emailing him at email@example.com. You can also RSVP on the Facebook event page.
<h3 class="leadin">On the rise
Congratulations to Buffalo Grove police Sgt. Robert Broussard, recently honored as one of only three of the state's "Rising Shields in Law Enforcement" by the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police.
Broussard joined the Buffalo Grove force in 2006 and has been the department's go-to expert on computer crimes for the past decade. He led the department's initiative to become part of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force in 2012 and a year later was named the department's employee of the year.
Promoted to his current rank in 2015, Broussard now serves as the department's administrative services and training sergeant.
The other Rising Shields this year were Sgt. Ryan Stewart of the McHenry County Conservation District Police Department and officer Nicholas Haff of the Winnebago Police Department.
<h3 class="leadin">Duck, duck, loose
A Mount Prospect cop found himself faced with a fowl situation last week.
Officer Frank Tolgyesi responded to a 911 call last Wednesday to find a duck trapped in a chain-link fence. Tolgyesi carefully freed the duck from the entrapment, a moment captured in a photograph shared on the department's Facebook page.
The duck had an injured wing, so officers contacted a bird specialist who picked up the duck from the police station and is nursing it back to health, Officer Gregory Sill tells us.
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