Police, fire departments boast decrease in crime, efficient response time


Noah Frick-Alofs/The Daily Northwestern

Mayor Steve Hagerty speaks at City Council meeting. Hagerty asked Evanston Fire Department officials to work to lower the number of emergency calls

Sneha Dey, Assistant City Editor

The Evanston Police Department and Evanston Fire Department presented their yearly updates to City Council at a meeting Monday, reporting an increase in emergency calls and a decrease in crime in 2018.

According to the EPD report, crime went down 2.7 percent and use of force decreased by 3 cases. The fire department received 3,595 calls in 2018 and faced the city’s first fire fatality since 2013.

For the third year in a row, the city surpassed 10,000 9-1-1 emergency calls, according to city documents. EFD chief Brian Scott said he expects this increase to continue at a rate of about 2 percent per year as part of a national trend.

Despite this increase, Scott emphasized that the EFD has maintained a response time below the national standard of four minutes at three minutes and 12 seconds. By responding efficiently and keeping fires contained, the EFD prevented $99 million dollars worth of property damages in 2018, Scott said.

Still, Mayor Steve Hagerty asked the EFD to try to reduce the number of non-emergency calls.

“I’m so impressed — with the same amount of staffing you’ve been able to maintain (services),” Hagerty said. “But this isn’t sustainable when we’ve got budget challenges.”

Scott also highlighted the Fire Department’s community engagement programs like the Evanston Fire Explorers, the Evanston Township High School Public Safety Program and the Citizen Fire Academy. In particular, Scott said the Citizen Fire Academy is “one of the best in country” and aims to create a “cross-section of our community” that is well-informed about the EFD’s work.

In October 2018, national analytics firm Insurance Services Office awarded the EFD the Class 1 Public Protection Classification, the highest ranking of ten. ISO evaluates over 46,000 offices and gives only 300 offices the award for superior fire protection, Scott said.

“We’re really proud of this classification,” he said. “We’re going to use it as a benchmark moving forward.”

For EPD, Evanston saw a total of 1,848 incidents of crime, down 2.7 percent from the previous year, according to city documents.

The number of thefts and arson incidents went down, while criminal sexual assault and murders went up by two and three cases respectively, according to city documents.

“Any percent (decrease) is a blessing,” EPD chief Demitrous Cook said.

Since 2017, EPD’s use of force has also decreased in every category. There were 27 reported uses of force in 2018, a standard number, according to Cook. Cook said Evanston residents have formulated a number of groups to hold the police accountable for their use of force.

Since his swearing-in ceremony in January, Cook has already receives a large number of inquiries about police misconduct, Cook said. Only three residents formally registered public complaints for unprofessional conduct.

“Make no mistake about it. Evanston is one of the top police departments in Illinois,” Cook said. “It always has been a police department that upholds the law.”

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