DeKALB — Chief of Police Gene Lowery reported there has been a 12% decrease in index crimes in DeKalb under the Uniform Crime Reporting Act at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. 

Index crimes include homicide, criminal sexual assault, robbery, aggravated battery or assault, burglary, theft, motor vehicle theft, arson and human trafficking, according to the report.

Lowery explained the DeKalb Police Department Annual Report at the Committee of the Whole meeting and said the 12% decrease is huge for the city.

“When we look at the consideration of 2017 and 2018, you see a 12% drop in those crimes total,” Lowery said. “Don’t get me wrong; there are still crimes we have challenges with that we have to face, but this was a great year preceded by another good year.” 

Weapon offenses declined by 19%, gang-related incidents declined by 35%, burglaries declined by 20%, theft declined by 17% and self-initiated activity by police officers increased by 16%, according to the report. Lowery said the self-initiated activity increase means the people at the police department are doing more with the resources they have to help create an impact on crime concerns.  

“The proactive policing initiatives put officers in the right spot at the right time to try and interdict crime before it gets out of control and get ahead of the cycle,” Lowery said. 

The initiatives, which were implemented in 2018, include the Safe Streets Initiative, which aims to make neighborhoods safer by limiting on-street parking, and  Changing Outcomes by Making Parents Accountable, Successful and Supported, also known as COMPASS, which has promoted early intervention for juvenile offenders, according to the April 8 City Council agenda. 

Also included are the Domestic Violence Lethality Assessment Program, which prohibits the cycle of relationship-based domestic violence, and Project HOPE or, Heroin and Opioid Outreach Prevention and Education, which gets addicts to treatment as soon as possible, according to the agenda. 

Lowery said police answered 115,000 calls in 2018 and more than 22,400 were 911 calls, a 2% increase from 2017.

“These numbers are good but could still use some improvement,” Lowery said. “The numbers mean a lot, but the police relationship with the community means everything.” 

Mayor Jerry Smith thanked Lowery for his work and said in previous years there has been a huge spike in terms of crimes, burglaries and break-in of cars. 

Lowery said there has been a decrease in youth-committed crimes. Most perpetrators in previous years have matured by now and are being held more accountable, he said.

Fourth ward alderperson Patrick Fagan said he feels privileged to have police services like the ones in DeKalb. He said in the report there are a lot of reductions for a municipal with a university.

“You have a great relationship with NIU; hopefully, other towns experience that as well,” Fagan said.

Lowery said he thinks things have improved in other university communities but doesn’t know if they’ve improved to the extent of NIU’s. Different police departments are trying to work together to address crime, he said.

“The challenge is still there,” he said.  “There’s a massive exodus of students across Illinois, which is impacting communities by creating tremendous amounts of rental property surplus, and that has an impact on crime.”