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Local News

Riverside Board gets crime updates, approves community events

Riverside Chief outlines crime stats

RIVERSIDE – Riverside police officers issued 530 fewer moving violation tickets and arrested 23 percent fewer DUI offenders throughout the first half of 2013 as compared to the first half of last year, according to a recent report.

Riverside Police Chief Tom Weitzel said Thursday the decrease was likely a result of having fewer police officers on patrol during the midnight shift. Weitzel said two officers who were normally on that shift recently retired and the recruits who'd been hired to replace them are still being trained. 

Weitzel said he believed that with time, the number of moving violation citations and DUI arrests would return to normal levels.

The report also showed that Riverside police issued 102 more parking tickets in the first six months of 2013, compared over the same period last year.

Another recent study showed the Riverside Police Department to be compliant with the state's racial profiling laws, Weitzel told board members. 

Illinois requires an annual assessment of the number of traffic stops made to determine if certain officers are more likely to arrest minority drivers.

Of the nearly 2,500 traffic stops made by Riverside Police Officers throughout 2012, 50.16 percent were minority violators and 49.84 percent were Caucasian violators. The study shows the department fell far below the minority benchmark number of 59.6 percent, which was set for Riverside by a State judge.

Chief details record burglary arrests

RIVERSIDE – The July arrests of two serial home burglars meant police could close 43 previously open burglary cases, Police Chief Tom Weitzel told the board. Weitzel added it was the largest pair of burglary arrests in the history of the village.

Although police have established that the two alleged burglars did not know each other, Weitzel told members of the Riverside Board of Trustees at their Thursday meeting that he knew one of them.

Weitzel said one of the alleged burglars, Milo Simmons, 42, of Cicero, was a career criminal who spent the money he made from selling stolen goods to pay for his heroin habit, knew him.

“I had arrested [Simmons] myself in the 1990s fleeing a residence on Fairbanks road,” Weitzel said. “When I saw him in our lockup, he remembered me, so that was nice.” 

The other alleged burglar was Earl Toomer, 19, of Maywood, who allegedly prowled Riverside on a bicycle and stole from unlocked cars in residential driveways.

“[Burglars] are going to keep coming back until they get caught, because it is extremely, in their mind, easy,” Weitzel said. “Milo said he kept coming back to Riverside because he got better equipment from our residents.”

Riverside to host 'Betrayal' filming, community events

RIVERSIDE – West suburban viewers of the new ABC studios crime-thriller "Betrayal" may notice some familiar houses in the upcoming series first few episodes.

The new show, which is set and largely shot in Chicago, filmed in Riverside on Saturday and will film again on Friday.

Riverside Village Manager Peter Scalera said that the filming would take place in the Longcommon and Delaplaine area. 

Scalera said the show's producers have already been in contact with the residents in the immediate shooting area.

“Much to [the producer's] surprise – I'm not surprised, but I think they were surprised – a number of residents offered up their own driveways to be used however they want for the shooting,” Scalera said. “I thank all of the residents for their patience.”

Scalera said there will be sporadic street closures in the area and the ABC Studio staff will distribute leaflets around the area. 

Scalera said there are no plans to do any additional filming of the show in Riverside yet.

Community events approved

RIVERSIDE – The Riverside Board of Trustees approved the permits of four community events Thursday.

The bike riders of the Eighth Annual Wright Ride will wind their way through Riverside once again on Aug. 18. Cyclists will zip past historic buildings and homes designed by Oak Park native Frank Lloyd Wright. Riders can choose routes to ride on 10, 25 or 50 mile-long routes. Interested people can register online at the Oak Park Cycle Club's website. Registration is $25 online and $30 on the day of the race for adults and $5 for children under 12.

For the second year, the Fredrick Law Olmsted Society will host a day-long gardening event on Sept. 21 in the Riverside Public Library's parking lot. The event, called FRED, will feature experts demonstrating how to arrange flowers as well as many other gardening tips.

The second Riverside Junior Woman's Charity Pizza Fest will be held at the Riverside Train Station on Sept. 28. The event was last hosted in 2009 and featured pizza tasting with samples from local pizzerias and a silent auction. The event organizers plan to serve alcohol at the event. More information will be available on the Riverside Junior Woman's website.

The second annual Riverside-Brookfield High School Bulldog River Run will be held Oct. 5. The run is planned to raise money for Bulldog athletics. The 5k route will start near Village Hall and follow the Des Plaines river, with runners crossing it twice by footbridge.

Plans to overhaul busy intersection moving forward

RIVERSIDE – A state project to overhaul the intersection of First Avenue and Ridgewood Road near Riverside-Brookfield High School is moving along, but not without contention.

Riverside Village President Benjamin Sells said Thursday that local officials had approved a plan to add more lanes to the busy intersection. 

Village Trustee Douglas Pollack said he objected to any plan that would add lanes for vehicles.

“The purpose of right turn lanes is one thing: to move more traffic, faster,” Pollack said. “That is contrary to pedestrian safety.”

Trustee Patricia Collins said she supports the project because of the unsafe decisions impatient drivers make on a regular basis.

“They do really dangerous things because they want to turn right,” Collins said.

Collins said often cars wanting to make a right turn onto First Avenue from Ridgewood Road will have to wait for pedestrians to pass before turning, making drivers who want to pass through the intersection feel they need to speed through in order to make the light.

Police Chief Tom Weitzel agreed with Collins' assessment of the dangerous moves made by frustrated drivers.

“We have an officer there every single day,” Weitzel said. “Even the officers get frustrated with the actions of the drivers to get through the intersection.”

Weitzel went on to say he was impressed with the plan, which was presented by the Illinois Department of Transportation last week.

Sells said the decision to choose the current plan that involves adding a turn lane was made along with members of the Brookfield and North Riverside government's along with representatives from the Brookfield Zoo and Riverside-Brookfield High School.

It is not yet known when the Illinois Department of Transporation will begin construction on the intersection modifications. 

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