DeKalb pairs with NIU to lower crime rates

By Morgan Fink

DeKALB — DeKalb Police Department and NIU Police Department are teaming up in order to reduce crime in the city of DeKalb.

The annual report for DeKalb Police Department showed a 26 percent rise in the most serious offenses such as murder, rape, burglary, motor vehicle theft and arson, also known as part one crimes, from 2015 to 2016.

Part two crimes, such as disorderly conduct and driving under the influence, are up 4 percent.

The DeKalb Police Department is planning initiatives to change these statistics by going forward with phase two of DeKalb’s 20-20 plan.

The goal of DeKalb’s 20-20 is to have 20 initiatives completed in 20 months to decrease the crime rate, DeKalb Mayor John Rey said. DeKalb’s 20-20 plan started in order to initiate proactive policing.

Phase one of the plan began in 2012, and between then and 2015, crime in DeKalb had decreased. DeKalb Police Chief Gene Lowery implemented phase two in the fall of 2016 when criminal activity increased again. These strategies are in line with the plan of the city council. Lowery is in charge of overseeing the initiatives as well as the commanders he has made aware of the plan.

Co-policing is one of those initiatives. Lowery has assembled a summit of chiefs from communities similar to DeKalb that have universities in their jurisdiction.

Another initiative the departments are co-policing involves monitoring crime on GPS heat maps. Incidents of crime appear on a heat map, and police then direct patrols to areas where it is most likely that criminal activity will occur.

“I am very pleased to learn that in those summit conversations, DeKalb has one of the more progressive and active co-policing initiatives with their university police department,” Rey said.

The NIU Police Department and DeKalb Police Department are collaborating and co-policing on a number of fronts. DeKalb has one of the strongest crime-free housing initiatives among universities present across the state, Lowery said during the Feb. 28 city council meeting.

“I am very concerned to see the summary of the statistics for 2016,” Rey said. “Both of these situations are very troubling to me.”

In the meeting, Lowery said a large portion of the part one crimes are coming from juvenile offenders. A total of 73 juvenile offenders committed 149 part one crimes last year.

“These statistics further disturb me because it pertains to a scenario where those juveniles will become progressively active in criminal activity,” Rey said.

Of the top 20 juvenile offenders, their average age was 15.9 years old, and these 20 offenders generated 1,045 DeKalb Police reports.

“To know that these 20 offenders have generated over 1,000 reports is staggering,” Lowery said.