by Dave Noble, City News Editor
ELMHURST – Live footage of police chasing suspects through residential neighborhoods, aerial views of current crime scene investigations, and a guaranteed local traffic report during the morning and evening television news programs are among the potential benefits for residents if the City of Elmhurst grants a request from WGN-TV to keep its news helicopter somewhere in town for the convenience of reporting on the massive crime wave that continues to plague the once-peaceful suburb of Chicago.
Known for million-dollar homes, nail salons, and the reluctance of its residents to utilize basic crime-prevention measures, Elmhurst has been the recent target for criminals who prey upon cities with multiple escape routes and unlocked doors. After dispatching their news helicopter from downtown Chicago to Elmhurst dozens of times over the last year, WGN-TV approached the mayor’s office last week with a request to park the chopper atop the Addison St. parking garage or in the City Centre Plaza so that a news team can be quickly dispatched to cover breaking stories.
In exchange for a space to take off, land, and store the helicopter, WGN-TV has offered to report on Elmhurst traffic during its Monday through Friday morning and evening television news programs. Drive times for Spring Rd., York St., and St. Charles Rd. are expected to be included in the coverage.
According to Elmhurst Mayor Steve Morley, the city is leaning toward signing off on the request from WGN-TV.
“The could be a tremendous opportunity for Elmhurst and its residents,” said Morley, who has reportedly asked WGN-TV if the city’s slogan “Close to Everything, Unlike Anything” could appear at the bottom of all live videos aired from above Elmhurst. “I think people would enjoy watching more footage of our police force in action. And if they’re like me, they would also like to know how traffic is moving along St. Charles Rd. from York St. to Route 83 during rush hour.”
While some members of City Hall have approached the mayor with concerns over a helicopter flying over Elmhurst on a regular basis to report on unfavorable stories like bank robberies, burglaries and carjackings, Morley believes that the positives of having a news crew capturing crimes in progress far outweigh the negatives.
“I believe that any publicity is good publicity,” continued Morley, who downplayed a recent report that Elmhurst has been added to the list of “Shithole Cities” whose residents are no longer welcome in the Village of Hinsdale. “We still have a great community, and unfortunately, haters are always going to hate.”
The City of Elmhurst is expected to finalize the deal with WGN-TV later this week.