Police increase Halloween patrol

By Michael Urbanec

DeKALB — As Halloween approaches, students prepare for a week full of costumes and candy, but the recent influx of shootings may damper the excitement for some.

Since the start of the semester, there have been five shootings located in the northwest side of DeKalb, which is most likely to have the highest concentration of Halloween parties because the area includes Greek Row and other student housing, said NIU Police Chief Tom Phillips.

John Petragallo, DeKalb Police Department deputy police chief, said there have been three arrests made with promising leads that will hopefully lead to the fourth arrest.

“This is something that is unique, these occurrences, in relation to the past four years that I have spent as chief,” Phillips said.

NIU, DeKalb, county and state police increased their patrols of the northwest side of DeKalb during the weekend to better ensure safety during Halloween celebrations. NIU and DeKalb Police Department officials will maintain this increased patrol even beyond the Tuesday holiday in light of the recent shootings.

Halloween, along with other celebratory times of year like Homecoming and the first week of school, always bring forth a greater need for patrols, Phillips said. But during the Let’s Talk Student Forum held Wednesday in response to the recent increase in gun violence, Phillips called the spike in shootings rare.

“We have an expanding and diverse community,” Phillips said. “We could blame anyone, but it’s not our students. We have to realize that DeKalb intersects several cities: Chicago, Rockford and Aurora.”

Phillips and Petragallo both said the key to reducing shootings is to target gang and drug activity. In doing this, they said they believe the shootings will stop.

With Halloween coming up, Phillips urged students to be aware of their surroundings and the resources provided by the city and university.

The Huskie Safe Line runs every night from 11 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. The line runs in place of the bus service over night and has routes covering NIU’s campus and the surrounding areas, including several stops in the Greek Row neighborhood.

“If you’re underage and drinking or reek of cannabis, call us,” Phillips said. “My job is to get you home.”

Petragallo also said to make sure to report any suspicious activity observed in the area; he said police officials know best where to patrol based on the tips they receive from community members.

Juan Cibrian, Stevenson North Residence Hall community advisor, said students should still remember to have fun this weekend.

“The first goal is obviously to have fun,” Cibrian said. “But keep in mind that everything has consequences, positive and negative.”