Cops walking the beat. It seems so simple. Yet for many municipalities it’s not really part of the policing strategy.

Riverside has a well-deserved reputation as a kind of Midwestern Mayberry. Even though it’s smack dab in the middle of the sprawling Chicago megalopolis, it remains somewhat isolated due to its winding streets, limited access points and lack of a true out-of-town draw.

But trouble does sometimes find its way to the center of the village, where a business district and concentration of multifamily buildings meet. Riverside police, however, have by and large stayed inside their squad cars, often on the periphery of the village.

In the past couple of weeks, though, the police department has started a community policing program. It’s not an everyday thing, but it’s supposed to happen on a regular basis and there’s a tracking mechanism.

While the majority of the focus appears to be the business areas and schools, we like the idea of officers also getting out into the neighborhoods a bit and getting to know residents on a more personal basis.

Police are always asking residents to provide them with information on suspicious activity or people hanging about. The sight of a police officer walking down a sidewalk on a residential street in the past often meant trouble was at hand or a manhunt was underway.

That won’t necessarily be the case any longer, and it may provide the kind of relationship with residents that police are hoping for – one that benefits both the department and the people they serve.

We hope the program continues even as the weather worsens in the fall and winter. And we would encourage other police departments to follow suit or expand the areas where their officers patrol on foot.

It’s worth a shot

It’s nice to know people. It’s even nicer when those people might be able to slow the damage sure to be inflicted on the village by the emerald ash borer.

While it’s simply a research study to determine the effectiveness of treating ash trees with chemical insecticides, Riverside’s partnership with Morton Arboretum could end up helping more than the village itself.

At the very least, treating ash trees in Indian Gardens might help stave off the effects of the emerald ash borer in an area where those types of trees are a real presence. Losing scores of mature trees in a single area like Indian Gardens would be a real blow.

If the research shows the treatments to be very effective at slowing or stopping the infestation of the ash borer, it might be worth the expenditure to treat trees in order to prevent the village from absorbing the huge cost of removing large numbers of trees in a short period of time. The estimate in Riverside for removing all of the ash trees on public lands, and replanting, is close to $1 million.

Kudos to Village Forester Mike Collins on continuing to reach out to his contacts at the arboretum to make this study in Riverside a reality.