Point/Counterpoint: Local crime and safety

By Perspective staff

Local crime is a concern at any university as parents want to feel their children are safe when studying away from home. NIU and DeKalb have made efforts to comfort this fear, but some could argue it is not enough.

Crime prevention efforts need refocus

Mackenzie Meadows | Columnist

Violence and police sirens are becoming far too common within DeKalb’s city limits, but it appears no one is attempting to solve the problem. DeKalb has seen a 26 percent increase from 2015 to 2016 in Part I crimes which include homicide, armed robbery, sexual assault and other serious crimes, according to the 2016 DeKalb Police Annual Report.

Known for the rising numbers of assault cases with 129 in the past year, DeKalb is 19 on the most dangerous cities in Illinois list, compiled by Herald&Review.com in 2016. It seems local police care more about parties off campus and cars going five miles per hour over the speed limit than all the assaults and robberies that take place. The total number of recorded traffic citations was 3,702 for 2016, according to the same Dekalb Police Annual Report.

With the new substation being added in the Holmes Student Center, the university is adding more police to the center of campus, though it would make more sense to spread police coverage out rather than cluster it in one area. More police officers and patrols need to be added to Greek Row, Aspen Avenue, Spiros Court and the apartments off campus where all the crime seems to be happening, according to DeKalb Country Area Police Report.

Students need to become less scared of the police force intruding on their parties and start holding them accountable for being there when it really counts.

On the “Welcome to DeKalb” sign off Lincoln Highway near the outer edge of Dekalb, a sign incoming students pass with their parents on the way to campus, the county should add “Best known for our entangling web of crime and violence.”

DeKalb is proactive against local crime

Ian Tancun | Northern Star

Crime in the DeKalb area is an ongoing problem that NIU is taking proactive steps to help combat.

I recently wrote about the new police substation opening in the Holmes Student Center. And while I may not entirely agree with NIU’s decision to open a police substation there, the underlying goal of doing so was to help tackle the growing crime statistics in DeKalb.

From 2015 to 2016, DeKalb saw a 26 percent increase in serious crimes committed — burglary, murder, rape, theft and arson — according to a Mar. 6 Northern Star article.

While those figures are concerning, it would be equally concerning if DeKalb and NIU police were doing nothing to try and combat the spike in crime statistics. Luckily, that is not the case.

That same Northern Star article discussed how the DeKalb and NIU Police Departments are joining forces to implement procedures to help lower crime in the area.

As a student and a DeKalb resident, I’m concerned about the number of criminal incidents increasing. However, I do also recognize and appreciate that the NIU and DeKalb Police Departments are making a concerted effort to tackle this issue head on.

Both departments are using GPS heat maps to pinpoint areas that are prone to frequent criminal activity and directing their officers to patrol those areas, according to the article. That seems like an effective way to work on lowering crime in DeKalb.

Whether their efforts will actually reduce the number of criminal incidents in the area remains to be seen. But taking proactive steps to address the issue, which NIU and DeKalb seem to be doing, is certainly a step in the right direction.