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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Prepare, prevent, pay attention!


Above / Dick Tracy is 92! Visit his bronze likeness located behind the Naperville Township Building, just over the Moser Covered Bridge at Webster Street, leading toward Water Street. Take photos with the 9 ft. sculpture on the Century Walk tour. Promote partnering to prevent crime.

With vivid memories of the Naperville’s annual Public Safety Open House in late September, attention now turns toward Fire Prevention Safety Week and Crime Prevention Month, a focus this publication has embraced since 2001.

Looking forward, consider a little local history. As the story goes, in 1911 on the 40th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire, the Fire Marshals Association of North America started Fire Prevention Week. Since 1925, Fire Prevention Week has been a national observance, held Sunday through Saturday every October during the week of Oct. 9, a time to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

Reportedly, the Great Chicago Fire killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless and destroyed more than 17,400 buildings. After the devastating fire, new laws were passed requiring new buildings to be constructed with fireproof materials such as brick, stone, marble and limestone. Naperville stone quarries flourished back then, known to provide building materials for Chicago, and that historical connection is interpreted during tours of Martin-Mitchell Mansion at Naper Settlement.

McGruff the Crime Dog and Sparky the Fire Dog promote important common-sense messages to youngsters to help reduce crime and prevent fires. It’s up to everyone to help keep the community safe.

During Fire Prevention Week in 1960, Sparky, the Fire Dog, was introduced. Appearing on TV, Sparky simply sang, “Help Sparky the fire dog! When you’re careful, then you’re really smart; so never give fire a place to start!”

Then in 1984, the National Crime Prevention Council designated October as Crime Prevention Month. Ever since, government agencies, law enforcement, schools, businesses and service clubs and media have helped to spread the word about crime prevention and personal safety.

Perhaps paying attention to public safety is more prosaic now. Perhaps a reminder with historical notes about this community’s never-ending priority to keep this community safe brings back childhood memories of Officer Friendly, Safety Town and the 40-plus-year history of Crime Stoppers and crime prevention school calendars.

Times are changing. Firefighters and police are faced with new rules and regulations. While Naperville has been tripling in size since the 1980s, folks have recognized that public safety also needs to grow.

It’s up to everybody, all ages, to help keep this community safe.

See something suspicious? Call 9-1-1. It’s that simple.

As Naperville Police Chief Jason Arres said at a recent City Council meeting (Sept. 5), “If you see something dangerous or suspicious, call 9-1-1.”

When queried by City Council members regarding folks who say they “don’t want to be a bother” to the police, Chief Arres replied, “We are paid to be bothered. Please call us.”

Chief Arres continued, “Give us an opportunity to see what’s going on…It’s never a bother. We want to protect our community. If you see something, say something.”

And while considering crime fighters, Dick Tracy—the serious, upstanding internationally-renowned police detective wearing the bright yellow fedora in the comic strip—turned 92 years old on Oct. 4, 2023. Find his Century Walk 9 ft.-tall bronze sculpture behind the Naperville Township Building near the Moser Covered Bridge at Webster Street.

Find an image of Dick Tracy with a self-portrait of Dick Locher featured on the mural titled “World’s Greatest Artists.”

In addition, colorful images of the famous crime stopper also are painted in two murals on the Century Walk tour alongside Dick Locher, the Pulitzer-prize winning cartoonist who began drawing Dick Tracy when the original creator, Chester Gould, retired in 1977.

The mural titled “World’s Greatest Artists” graces the exterior of the Naperville Art League and Gallery at 508 N. Center. The other likenesses are featured in “Naperville Loves a Parade” just off Main Street.

Beyond the cast of nationally-known characters of Sparky, McGruff and Dick Tracy, every October PN has used portions of its pages to salute our city’s first responders. Readers are reminded that Naperville is recognized as one of the safest cities in the nation, thanks to the dedicated men and women employed by the police and fire departments.

Yet, just like any place, natural disasters, accidents and crimes happen. Sometimes fires, floods, uprooted trees, tornadoes and other unexpected disasters can and do happen here, too. Sometimes arrests are made for criminal offenses.

Pay attention. Be prepared. Perhaps watch or attend city council, school board and park board meetings as well as budget workshops to get the straight scoop about prioritizing plans for public safety and protection now being considered. Stay safe. Let freedom ring.

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PN Ombudsman
PN Ombudsman
An ombudsman is Scandinavian in origin dating back to Viking times; and refers to a community representative; usually acting independently on behalf of an organization, body of elected officials, or civic group. Thanks Scandinavia for inventing ombudsman.