Rates of reported crime in Evanston — which had risen more than 30% during the first nine months of 2022 — fell during the last quarter of the year.

The latest data from the police department shows that crimes against persons, which were up by 35% from 2021 levels during the January through September period, fell 12% from prior year levels in the October through December period.

Property crimes, which rose 30% compared to 2021 levels during the first nine months of the year, dropped by 5% against year-earlier levels in the fourth quarter.

Despite the improvement toward the end of the year, for the year as a whole crimes against persons in 2022 were up 22% from year before levels, while property crimes increased by 20%.

Evanston’s new police chief, Schenita Stewart, took over as head of the department on Oct. 10, and immediately embarked on an outreach campaign of community meetings and vowed to work on filling the 27 vacant positions in the department.

Stewart, in an interview with Evanston Now Wednesday afternoon, said she’s encouraged by the recent decline in crime and hope it continues.

She said she’s been working with her command staff to increase the number of officers deployed to areas where crimes have been recently reported and believes that change is having an impact.

“They’re doing a real good job of deploying officers where they’re most needed,” the chief said.

Stewart said the department has hired a total of 10 new officers in the past few months — four who were lateral transfers from other departments and six who are new to policing.

Those six will have to go through the police academy and in-the-field training before they can begin patrol on their own. That, she said, means it will be about a year before they’ll be on regular patrol.

She said total sworn officer vacancies are now down to 16, but that the vacancy total is a moving target, with officers continuing to put in for retirement. Two more officers, Stewart said, are scheduled to retire next month.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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