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.