City crime rate drops unexpectedly

Chris Kirk

Defying expectations, city crime has plummeted so far this year, police said.Evanston Police Department Chief Richard Eddington said overall crime between January and August has dropped 18 percent this year from the same time frame last year, a decline unlike any he has seen before.”An 18 percent reduction is a phenomenal reduction in reported crime,” Eddington said. “I’ve seen dips in certain categories that much, but not across the board that way.”Drops have occurred in all categories of crime, including a 14 percent drop in aggravated battery, a 15 percent drop in theft, a 22 percent drop in burglary, a 27 percent drop in motor vehicle theft and a 41 percent drop in robbery.Eddington said that considering the economic recession, he is surprised by the dip.Although criminologists, sociologists and economists have long questioned the correlation between crime and prosperity, strong and consistent evidence for a link has yet to be found, said Northwestern Prof. Tom Durkin, who specializes in crime.”We can’t find any perfect correlation,” he said in April.

Part of the problem, Durkin said, is there are too many variables to see clearly how crime and prosperity correlate.

Despite the lack of conclusive evidence, scholars still find it reasonable to expect economic misfortune to fuel more crime, he said.”If you’re living in a state with 20 percent unemployment, things are likely to get nasty,” Durkin said.So why has Evanston, with a 7.2 percent unemployment rate, up from 5.5 percent last year, defied expectations?The answer, Eddington said, is new technology, new cameras and new strategies.”As all these things begin to gel, it has an impact on crime,” he said.[email protected]