The Evanston Police Department released its 2011 annual report on Tuesday, reporting a significant drop in violent crime and a very minor decline in overall crime.
From 2010 to 2011, overall crime in the city dropped 0.3 percent, with a reported 2,324 crimes in 2011 compared to 2,331 the year before, according to an EPD news release. The number of homicides dropped from five to three, aggravated battery and assault incidents decreased by 24 percent and responses to calls of shots fired fell by 28 percent.
EPD spokesman Cmdr. Jay Parrott said the reduction in violent crimes is a positive sign for the department.
“It shows that we’re allocating manpower and our efforts in the right areas,” Parrott said. “The fact that we have such a reduction in violent crime, shots fired, I think that shows that we’re making an impact in the right areas because violent crime is obviously a huge public safety concern, and it has an effect on the community as a whole.”
The release credits two major undercover narcotics operations with helping to curb violent crime in the city: Operation Bloodhound and Operation Replay. The operations resulted in a total of 54 arrests, according to the release.
“Illegal drug dealing has a direct link … to violent crime within criminal organizations,” the report stated. “These extended undercover operations had a direct result of disrupting these types of criminal organizations selling illegal drugs and using firearms to conduct their day-to-day criminal enterprises.”
Parrott downplayed the small reduction in overall crime rates, citing the 1,673 thefts in 2011, which he called a high number. Theft is often driven by opportunity, he said. He noted that 163 reported thefts involved items being taken from an unlocked car.
“I can’t say that just because someone did lock their car that every one of those thefts would have been eliminated, but I can say that I think a great majority would and that would have an effect on the crime rate,” he said.
The 71-page report also outlines traffic data from 2011. According to the report, the number of accidents at the 10 most common crash locations in the city continues to drop year after year. Each of the top 10 crash locations in 2010 saw a decline in 2011. Since 2007, the number of crashes at the top location has fallen from 43 to 21.
Parrott credited the reduction in crashes to the Evanston Traffic Management Bureau’s efforts to address seat belt violations and impaired driving. EPD won the International Association of Chiefs of Police’s 2011 National Traffic Safety Challenge for the bureau’s “outstanding traffic safety and enforcement initiatives,” according to the release.