Reported crime in Evanston has increased over the past four years as the size of the city’s police force has declined.

That’s what’s shown in data to be presented to Interim Police Chief Richard Eddington to the City Council’s Human Services Committee on Monday.

However, the report does not explain a dramatic drop in reported crime from 2017 to 2018 — a period when the department’s staffing also decreased.

And Eddington notes that the correlations between the two sets of data don’t prove that a change in staffing causes a change in the crime rate.

But he says the reduction in staffing has caused an increase in the time it takes for officers to respond to calls for service.

And the number of calls for service been increasing over the past several years.

The big jump shown for 2017, Eddington says, occurred when a new computer aided dispatch system resulted in more accurate tracking of officer activity and calls for service.

Eddington says that comparing Evanston to several other nearby large suburban communities, Evanstonians make more calls for service than residents of those other towns, based on data from 2019.

Eddington says the department is losing staff to other local police departments at a rate that has never happened before in the history of the Evanston Police Department.

He says the current high vacancy levels have led to a dramatic increase in forced overtime to fill vacant shifts.

“While some overtime may be acceptable,” Eddington says, “too many forcebacks have caused some of our staff to consider moving to other jurisdictions.”

“EPD staff is in need of a better work/life balance which cannot be accomplished given the short staffing,” the chief says.

He says 21 officers who have left the department in the recent past to work for other agencies had a combined 137 years of law enforcement experience and that the department had paid to send them to 16,584 hours of training.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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3 Comments

  1. Fund the Police. It is necessary to protect people and solve crimes. In Ward 9 there has been more activity than ever before–theft of packages, attempted break-ins to security locked buildings and if they can’t get in at 4am they pull the fire alarm. You can talk all you want about mental ‘situations’ but that does not stop the rest of the crimes; you need to man the beats Mayor. I told that time and again to a City Council member who had 24/7 protection. In response I got ‘there’s no increase in crime’. Oh yes there is when you hear gunshots outside of St Francis Hospital.

  2. I’m curious how you choose to compare Evanston to Aurora, Arlington Heights and Naperville, as communities which are all located an hours drive from Evanston. I would be more interested in a comparison made to neighboring Wilmette, Kenilworth, and Winnetka, Highland Park and Glencoe. They are much closer in proximity to Evsnston. As we do this, we might learn some valuable insights into what spurs crime in Evanston. Then, we will more easily be able to create a realistic plan to overcome it.

  3. At least part of the increase in the part 1 property crimes is, I suspect, lots of calls last year for leaf blowers.

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