Leverton: Gun related violence up since 2018 in DeKalb

2015 and 2018 saw the most crime in the past ten years.

DeKalb+Police+Headquarters%2C+700+W.+Lincoln+Highway.+

Patrick Murphy | Northern Star

DeKalb Police Headquarters, 700 W. Lincoln Highway.

DeKALB Alerts get sent out to students and faculty whenever there is crime happening on or around campus. This raises the question of how crime has changed in these areas in the last ten years and how it impacts residents, students and faculty.

Alex Bueno, a junior marketing major and chapter president of Delta Chi, said that there have been concerns with crime around the Greek Life housing complexes.

“We’ve seen a lot of crime happening here,” Bueno said. “I’ve had to come multiple times throughout the summer just to give the police camera footage that’s been happening around the neighborhood, so like drive-by shootings or somebody’s speeding off cause they just committed a crime and they need their license plates.”

Bueno said that the first-year students who reside in Greek Life housing are advised to try to avoid areas where crime is heightened and to walk in groups.

“Things have gotten a little bit better; I know NIU has hired security and stuff like that to just get more traffic on the ground and there’s police that do walk-arounds during the weekends starting Thursday,” Bueno said. 

NIU reported that 2015 and 2018 were the two years in the last decade that saw the most amount of crime, according to a graph from the FBI.

“Over the years and even recently, probably the two most common situations that we respond to that involve a crime and especially the arrest of an offender are retail theft or, you know, shoplifting from stores and domestic battery,” said Jason Leverton, Deputy Chief of Police for the DeKalb Police Department.

Leverton said that the city has seen an increase in gun-related violence and serious offenses with deadly weapons since 2018, including any incidents where shots have been fired but no individuals have been injured.

With the pandemic, people were forced to quarantine and got used to being at home more often. Even with the pandemic, law enforcement officials are not sold on COVID’s impact when it came to certain criminal activity.

“I don’t think that there was a real impact on crimes involving weapons because of COVID,” Leverton said. “If anything, and this is a little anecdotal in nature because you really can’t get inside of a person’s head and see why they committed a certain crime, I would say there was an uptick of some domestic cases because of COVID, you know, people having to cohabit for longer periods of time.”

Leverton said that crime could be a reason why some individuals decide to move out of the city, especially if they reside in areas that have seen an uptick.

“Crime impacts different neighborhoods differently and people that live in neighborhoods with more crime have to spend more of their mental energy and their resources thinking about how to keep themselves safe, and that can take a toll on the rest of their life,” said Daniel McConkie, associate professor of law.

The best way to ensure your safety is to be aware of your surroundings, listen to your gut, don’t look down at your phone while walking alone and walk with someone rather than by yourself if possible.

“There’s definitely an impact on the community and at NIU,” Leverton said. “We want people in the community and students and everyone involved at NIU to feel safe and yet, we know that because of some of these incidents that that’s been a little more difficult.”