Violent crime decreased by 7.2 percent last year, Evanston police report


Daily file photo by Daniel Tian

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl addresses City Council. Tisdahl said she would only be pleased if the city’s homicide rate was at zero.

Kristina Karisch, Assistant City Editor

Violent crime has decreased by 7.2 percent in the past year, an Evanston police official reported at a City Council meeting on Monday.

This decrease in crime translates to 141 fewer incidents of crime in 2016 than the previous year, Evanston Police deputy chief James Pickett said. He said the most notable subcategory was thefts, which decreased by 11.9 percent between 2015 and 2016.

The city releases crime statistics on a yearly basis and classifies crimes into two categories. The crimes mentioned in the report are classified as “part one” and include property and violent offenses such as homicide, arson and theft, that are reported to the Illinois state police and then to the FBI.

“These occur with regular frequency and are likely to come to our attention,” Pickett said.

Part two offenses are deemed less serious, and include offenses such as vandalism and disorderly conduct.

The three categories with the highest percentage decreases in offenses are homicides — down from three to two in the last year — as well as thefts, which decreased by 11.9 percent, and robberies, which decreased by 25.5 percent.

“The only number that’s any good is zero,” said Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl, referring to homicides in the city. “When they give me zero, I’ll be happy.”

Burglaries and motor vehicle thefts both increased in 2016, by 5.1 percent and 17.7 percent respectively. The motor vehicle theft statistic reflects a growing trend in suburbs, Evanston Police Cmdr. Joseph Dugan told The Daily.

He said he has seen frequent instances of people coming into Evanston from Chicago and finding unsecured vehicles on the streets. These cars may have had open doors, or valet keys or key fobs inside, he said.

At Monday’s meeting, Pickett said targeted cars sometimes contained valuable items like cell phones, tablets or purses that had been left in plain view.

Dugan told The Daily that all crime statistics are taken by the police department and incorporated into their deployment meetings.

“That way we can deploy our resources in the proper area, put our police forces in the right areas to try and combat crimes and trends,” he said.

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