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Keep forest preserve police

Unincorporated Cook County/091510-   Cook County Forest Preserve Police Officer JasObordrives down sectiwell traveled path Cook County Forest Preserve

Unincorporated Cook County/091510- Cook County Forest Preserve Police Officer Jason Obora drives down a section of well traveled path in the Cook County Forest Preserve in Unincorporated Cook County, Illinois Wednesday September 15, 2010. jm091510 news/TIN_potpolice_P4(SouthtownStar Photo by Joseph P. Meier)

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Updated: June 4, 2012 11:38AM

As a weekly user of the forest preserves in Cook County, I have to disagree with the idea that we can get away without a dedicated police force. The forest preserves are a magical place alive with wildlife, like the coyote, little green heron, and white tailed deer I saw last Saturday at LaBagh Woods on the North Side. We can share our urban and suburban communities with these creatures in part because the animals within them are protected.

Over decades of hiking, biking, canoeing and bird-watching, I have seen people digging up native plants and destroying the landscape, driving ATVs on tiny forest paths, trampling flowers with mountain bikes and tossing whatever kind of junk they feel like out the windows of their cars in parking lots. If anything, we need more dedicated police, not fewer.

For many years, my family hosted a picnic at Deer Grove, where we spent our childhoods in the woods. One year, when we arrived to set up our picnic, someone had set theirs up in our spot, even though we had a permit for the site.

Fortunately, a forest preserve police officer came along and asked the interlopers to leave. However, rather than just kick them out, he helped that family find a new shelter in which to have their picnic, therefore serving us both. That kind of service is only possible when the officer’s mission is directly connected to mission of the place. A regular Cook County officer would have other jobs to do.

Margaret Frisbie, Hermosa

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