Phillips to employ ‘hot spot’ policing

By Alex Nugent

NIU Police Chief Tom Phillips said the police are using several tactics to fight crime, which tends to go up as the weather warms.

NIU police are being trained to execute hot spot policing, which includes collecting and analyzing data on crime and deploying officers accordingly, Phillips said. Staff gather data to conduct a CompStat, which involves looking at crime data and trends and holding the supervisors and officers accountable for the trends, as well as working toward further intelligence gathering in residence halls.

Phillips said during his tenure he has also enhanced copolicing and increased patrols on and off campus and redesigned the patrol map by breaking the campus into four zones and beats, which helps specify where crimes happen.

Police are also re-employing bike patrol officers, which allows police officers to be closer to and interact with the community as the weather warms.

The majority of crimes committed on all college campuses, including NIU, are property crimes which are 70 to 80 percent bicycle thefts, Phillips said. This occurs because the warmer spring weather increases the number of people who are outside and using their bicycles, Phillips said.

“The greater the population the greater the probability or opportunity a crime is going to occur,” Phillips said. “The highest probability to be an offender of crime is the age demographic between 16 to 24 and 18 to 27 and there is also the same high probability that someone can be a victim of a crime.”

Senior anthropology major Gianna Bellucci said NIU’s campus is safe, but she appreciates the emergency stands located throughout campus, as well as the fact she owns mace in case she ever gets into any trouble.

“The campus can be the safest place on Earth, but if people don’t feel safe then it is not safe for them,” Phillips said. “That’s why presence is a big thing for me. There’s a fine balance with this; too many police make people feel oppressed and not enough makes people not feel safe.

“I think that you can actually have an increase in presence of police officers as long as those police officers [plan] on studying past crime patterns over multiple years to see what strategies made an impact or not.”

Junior history major Dimitri Niforos said NIU is safe and he does not see criminal activity from his home on Lucinda Avenue.

Phillips said he plans on continuing his studying of past crime patterns to see what strategies makee an impact.

Police are “slowly but surely getting better at this; strategically deploying our officers where they need to be in the community,” Phillips said. “We need to be protecting and engaging students where they study, where they work, where they live and where they socialize.”