DeKalb police officers to live in residential neighborhoods as part of program

By Jessi Haish

DeKalb Police Officer Jared Burke moved into his new home on 11th Street this weekend as part of the Resident Officer Program.

The Resident Officer Program allows police officer to move into a neighborhood to improve the quality of life in the area through communication with the residents.

DeKalb Mayor Kris Povlsen said Burke will be living in an area which needs improvement structurally and behaviorally.

“His goal is to become part of the neighborhood,” Povlsen said. “He will be invested in his specific area.”

DeKalb Lt. Jason Leverton said the program was modeled after programs used by Elgin and Oak Park. Leverton called it a pilot project and said he hopes it is successful and able to expand if funds become available.

“We have money budgeted in future years for another resident officer home,” said City Manager Mark Biernacki. “We will evaluate the effectiveness of this first one and decide at a later date on whether or not to expand the program.”

This is the first time a house has been purchased and worked on for the Resident Officer Program, Povlsen said. He said tax increment financing funded the house and project.

Leverton said efforts to clean up the house might help serve as an example for the neighborhood. The area Burke will cover goes from Union Pacific railroad tracks to the south, Fourth Street to the west, East Dresser Road to the north and 14th Street to the east.

“His duties will begin pretty soon,” Leverton said. “He will look specifically at crime and quality of life issues.”

Leverton said Burke will also work as a liaison between the fire department and building division on topics such as fire safety issues and code violations. Burke will also be working with social service agencies, assisting the neighborhood watch and working with the youth. He will also be involved with Littlejohn Elementary School in DeKalb.

“People will hopefully come to him with more problems and issues than we are aware of right now,” Leverton said.

Povlsen said he believes people in the neighborhood will be more inclined to communicate issues if there is an officer in the area.

Leverton said he hopes the program can expand in DeKalb in the future.

“This idea goes back a couple of years,” Leverton said. “The community was very responsive. We know there are other neighborhoods that are very interested. We would like to select more neighborhoods in the future, but it’s been tough in a tough economy.”

The DeKalb Police Department is in the process of hiring more police officers so Burke can be dedicated full-time to the Resident Officer Program.

“I’m looking forward to the implementation of this project,” Leverton said. “Not just for this neighborhood, but for the community as a whole.”