Evanston may cut ‘party car’ patrol funding

Grace Johnson

Northwestern students living off campus may be seeing fewer police patrols next year.

A proposed budget for the City of Evanston lists the elimination of a “special patrol for off-campus housing with NUPD” to help reduce the city’s $9.5 million budget deficit. The “party car” staffs both NU and Evanston police officers to patrol off-campus areas during times when student parties are likely to occur.

Police proposed cutting this unit because it is an additional off-campus safety measure, which supplements responding to regular calls, said Richard Eddington, Evanston chief of police. The proposed cuts were presented in late December by City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz and will be voted on by the end of February.

“If you look at the philosophy that went into reductions across the board, it dealt with special details or overtime endeavours,” Eddington said. “We felt we could still maintain emergency services but not quite the level we were maintaining with the extra details.”

Other potential cuts from the police budget include half of the summer patrol hours, as well as half of the money used to fund traffic control at NU home football games, Eddington said.

Eliminating the party car would save the city $20,000, while the reduced presence of police at football games would save $40,000, Assistant City Manager Martin Lyons said.

“The off-campus patrol was not singled out,” Lyons said. “Tough cuts were made throughout the budget.”

Ald. Jane Grover (7th), who presides over a ward where many students live off-campus, said many council members are concerned about the proposed cut.

“The party car is a wonderful collaboration,” Grover said. “It would be regrettable to see it go because it provides a fuller menu of options to police when dealing with issues off-campus.”

The joint effort of NU and Evanston police officers helps ward off student culprits, especially when students may have to face consequences from both police units.

“(The party car) has been a useful and effective deterrent to unruly behavior,” Eddington said. “By bringing both sanctions together, offenders get both the normal ticket, as well as contact with the university through the NU police officer.”

NU Deputy Police Chief Dan McAleer said cooperation between the two police departments will continue, no matter what aspects of the budget are cut.

“We will still find ways to partner and resolve issues,” he said. “We won’t have the dedicated party beat vehicle, but we will continue the partnership and still remain as a presence in the area.”

Both police departments will respond to calls as they come in, but the reduced number of officers on duty at one time will cause delays, Eddington said.

“When you reduce the manpower out on the street at any time, there will be a slight increase in response time to non-emergency calls,” he said. “It is an inevitable impact with this reduction. When you have 20 cops and reduce it to 15, it is going to take the 15 longer to do what 20 did.”

Despite assurance from both NU and Evanston police that a presence will be maintained, Kristen Radtke, who lives off-campus, said she is worried about the loss of the patrol.

“I feel the purpose of the party car is safety,” the Weinberg sophomore said. “I would be sad to see it go.”[email protected]