(February 14, 2017) Willow Springs is one of the safest towns in the country. So says the “Safest Small Towns in the United States Report, which determines national ranking from crime statistics provided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The report, issued Feb. 1 by the lending firm, lendedu.com, publishes the Top 250 Safest in the US—Willow Springs was tabbed at 200.
Mayor Alan Nowaczyk credits the ranking to cooperative efforts over the past decade among police, fire, public works and administration to adopt higher standards and to get information out to the public.
“This ranking obviously wasn’t always the way it was in the Village. We’ve come a long way. All of our employees and public officials have come together to make Public Safety the focus of their service to our community,” said Mayor Nowaczyk. “More importantly,” he continued, “we have been able to get information out to the public and involve them in the process. That’s been crucial.”
As one example, the Mayor pointed to efforts such as police walking door-to-door to provide information about a burglary ring that plagued several surrounding suburbs. A tip provided by an observant elderly resident helped a local police task force catch the offenders. As another example, the mayor noted a delivery truck driver reporting and helping solve a crime. That driver was honored by the Mayor and Village Board with a Good Citizenship Award.
In addition, the Village conducts a multi-agency public safety outreach annually, and works with neighboring Justice Police Department to co-host a public safety class to arm senior citizens with knowledge and crime prevention tips. The emergency outreach “Reverse 911 System” is utilized to further inform residents of emergencies and to alert the public of possible crime in the area. The Village shares the cost of the notification system with the West Suburban Water Commission.
“The more we can bring in partners and work together, the more effective we can be at keeping our town one of the safest. Developing relationships, sharing information and resources with surrounding communities helps keep us strong,” Nowaczyk added.
Police Chief Peter Kokkinis reminds local residents that their input is valuable. He urges residents to call with anything they see that even appears to be out of the ordinary.
“We encourage residents to call us and to let us know what is going on in the neighborhood. It’s a privilege to protect people who are involved in their community and promote positive values. We’re here to protect that way of life,” the Chief said.
There are approximately 16,470 incorporated towns of 10,000 or less population that match the survey criteria in the US. That places the Village’s safety score in elite company– in the top 2 percent in the nation. Considering that towns of larger population normally have significantly more crime, the ranking moves up into an even more impressive slot when combined with all towns, incorporated and unincorporated–a total of about 35,000 towns in the country.