Improvements made to safety of Hillcrest


A DeKalb Police patrol car is parked near the 7-Eleven at the corner of Hillcrest Street and Annie Glidden Road in January. This is just one of the streets in the area that has been watched by the Police Department to reduce crime.

By Lark Lewis

Improvements have been made and changes are taking place to make Hillcrest Street safe.

In 2011, the Safe/Quality Housing Task Force analyzed the safety of the area and suggested ways crime could be reduced.

Since then, the area north of the campus — which includes Edgebrook Drive, Kimberly Drive, Blackhawk Road, Hillcrest Street and Rushmoore Drive — has been under a magnifying glass by the Police Department to reduce the crime in the area.

“The hope is that with the time and money we’re putting into [the neighborhood], the quality of life for the residents will go up,” said first ward Alderman David Jacobson.

The city reviewed the parking regulations and amended parking ordinances to reduce crimes.

“Most of the people parking on the street weren’t residents who were paying a lease,” said Police Chief Gene Lowery. “It’s now a safer area with less congestion.”

Edgebrook and Kimberly also had their street lighting evaluated, which is a service that will be broadened to surrounding streets.

“The better lit a neighborhood is, the less likely crimes are going to be committed,” Lowery said.

Jacobson said reducing the ability for crimes to be committed is the main goal of all of these programs being implemented.

Another initiative the Police Department has implemented is the use of sweeps in certain neighborhoods and throughout the city.

Officers take a focus — whether its on people with outstanding warrants, parolees or registered sex offenders — and make sure they’re not in violation of any laws or at risk of being a repeat offender.

“We’re working with proactive police control to apprehend and prevent crime,” Lowery said.

City and university police have joined forces to work on the Hillcrest area since most of the occupants are NIU students.

“By partnering with the university, interacting with residents and having a regular presence of police force in the neighborhood crime will be reduced,” Jacobson said. “If there’s something going on, there will be more eyes to see the crime.”

Mayor John Rey hopes to continue to see the proactive work done in the Hillcrest area in the future to keep crime low.

“We would continue the vigilance,” Rey said. “So that we have law enforcement present in the area and we wouldn’t be late responding.”