Oak Park Wants to Blow Whistle on Crime

Police chief wants to outfit residents with brass whistles

There are a multitude of personal safety devices available these days, from stun guns to pepper spray, but police in Oak Park are recommending something a little more low-tech and budget-friendly.

In response to the recent 46-percent spike in robberies reported in Oak Park, Police Chief Rick Tanksley wants residents to be armed with brass whistles.

Tanksley said a whistle "scares the individual, they know their time is limited," reports the Oak Park Leaves.

The idea isn't a new one. The community effectively implemented the strategy during the 1980s.

"People would carry their whistles on their key chain or in their hands as they were walking down the street," said the police chief. "[It's] just another tool at someone's disposal to get help in times of emergency."

There were 166 robberies reported in Oak Park last year, up from 114 in 2007. Police want to assure residents that they are just as safe as ever though.

But not everyone's buying the new "whistlestop" program.

"You'd think you could be effective using your cell phone or some other means of communication," local resident Blaise Magniere told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Tanksley is working with the community-relations department to buy whistles in bulk to either give away or sell at a reduced cost.

Tanksley also reminds people that his officers will provide a police escort if they feel unsafe. Oak Park residents can request a police escort by calling the non-emergency telephone number, 708-386-3800.

Matt Bartosik, editor of Off the Rocks' next issue and "between blogs" blogger, arms himself with a bulky cell phone.

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