I know from experience what it takes to improve public safety. What is one of the best investments to deter crime? The answer may surprise you. Enrolling at-risk kids in high-quality preschool cuts crime, boosts school success and generates a high rate of return from savings on costs associated with crime and public benefits.

Our state fiscal troubles over the past few years have chipped away at our progress in reaching kids with high-quality, state-funded preschool through the Preschool for All program. For the first time in a decade, not all counties in Illinois have a state-funded preschool program. In suburban Cook County alone, we’ve lost about 88 preschool classrooms because of reduced funding.

According to a new report from Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, the three-year loss of 17,600 children will result in a $200 million cost to the state in lifetime future expenses. The state thinks it’s been saving money by cutting funding for Preschool for All by $55 million the last three years. The math just doesn’t add up.

I urge the General Assembly not to cut this important program any further. Investing in quality preschool today is one of the best – and most cost-effective – crime-prevention tools we have. Times are tough, and more than ever we need to focus on programs that work. We can’t afford not to. Protecting our investment in preschool is the smart choice when it comes to crime prevention and strong communities.

Thomas Weitzel,
Police Chief
Village of Riverside