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State budget impasse undermining crime-fighting

To the Editor:

Truly effective law enforcement efforts benefit from the help of many partners and elements working together.

From my officers and dispatchers to the staff at the jail, the sheriff’s department and the state’s attorney’s office, there are many good people cooperating to stop the bad guys. And it doesn’t stop there: A realistic view of public-safety efforts points to many other significant components.

For example, research repeatedly shows that high-quality preschool helps to put kids on the right path in life and keeps them off the path that leads to all sorts of trouble.

Child care assistance and “parent-coaching” programs for the families of very young children also help, as do Teen REACH after-school programs that offer older kids some safe alternatives to the dangers and lures of the streets.

And for young people who veer into criminal activity, the Redeploy Illinois effort is cheaper and more effective than prison in curbing recidivism.

Yet the effects of Illinois’ budget impasse reflect none of this, and is undermining every one of these important crime-fighting initiatives.

It’s threatening to keep preschool classrooms from reopening in the fall.

It’s already prompted the closure of many of these services for infants and toddlers, not to mention troubled teenagers.

My partners in law enforcement and I are trying to do our jobs. I guarantee you, criminals are doing what they feel to be theirs.

Now we need Illinois leaders to step up and do their own jobs, properly supporting the state’s top priorities for curbing crime and violence in communities throughout the state. That includes safeguarding the fundamental well-being of our children and youth.

Terry Leming

Lockport police chief

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