(ROSEMONT, Ill.) -- The village of Rosemont has a public safety department with 68 fulltime officers - an extraordinary number for a community of two square miles with fewer than 4,500 residents.
That's because Rosemont, 17 miles west of Chicago and next to O'Hare International, the country's busiest airport, has a large transient population. There's a convention center, 13 hotels with a total of almost 6,000 rooms, a sports and concert arena that seats 19,000 and a theater big enough to seat the entire village at once, as well as motels, restaurants and thousands of square feet of office space. The convention center is the 10th largest in the nation, and several major highways intersect in the village.
"We could have anywhere from 25,000 to upwards of 75,000 people here at any one time," said Deputy Chief Tom Petrozelli.
Rosemont has consciously developed as a business center, while towns around it have much larger residential populations and serve as bedroom communities for O'Hare and the Chicago area. The village gets $10.5 million a year just from its share of the hotel room tax.
The village can also have a small-town feel. Last weekend, the public safety department sponsored sponsored its fourth annual Children's Charity Police and Fire Softball Tournament in a Rosemont park. The event, featuring 10 teams from local departments, raises money for the Illinois Safety Alliance Burn Camp, and the Special Olympics.
Petrozelli describes the police department's biggest problem most of the time as traffic control.
"We have a large core of auxiliary personnel who are trained in traffic control and pedestrian control," Petrozelli said.
The part-timers are critical because the level of activity can vary so much, depending on what is going on at the venues in the village and how full the hotels are.
Petrozelli said that there is comparatively little crime in Rosemont, even with the large transient population. The public safety department has worked with management to make parking lots secure with gates, attendants and other measures. That has meant a dramatic decrease in vehicle thefts in recent years.
"We're more or less a convention town," Petrozelli said. "If we get a reputation that you are going to get burglarized, people aren't going to want to come here."
Most of the visitors present few problems, Petrozelli said. They come to the village for a specific purpose, whether it is to attend a convention or to catch Bruce Springsteen at the Allstate Arena, and once they are finished, they leave, leaving some of their money behind.