Increases in gang violence and domestic abuse may be responsible for last year’s 6 percent increase in violent crime, Evanston Police Chief Richard Eddington says.

Despite decreases in robberies and criminal sexual assault, an increase in aggravated assault and battery was enough to raise the overall level of violent crimes.

Aggravated assault and battery rose from 127 incidents in 2007 to 164 in 2008 — more than the median of 146.5 for the decade.

Eddington suspects that the increase in the category is due to incidents that he says are beyond the power of police to prevent — namely, gang violence and domestic abuse.

“If we’re having an ongoing gang dispute, they’re not really taken aback or intimidated by our presence, and that’s just the way it is,” he says.

He says that he did not know if there was any reason besides random variance that gang violence may have increased from 2007.

“When gangs decide to have a dust-up, there may be no particular logical reason that we can ascertain,” he says. “They just decide it’s time to go.”

The dismal financial climate may have put more stress on Evanston families, making domestic abuse more common, he says.

“I am terribly concerned that as the economy continues to sour, we will see an uptick on that,” he says.

The police department is investigating gang violence and domestic abuse figures to validate Eddington’s suspicions.

Eddington says the drops seen in other categories are more likely attributable to police work.

He says burglaries, for example, dropped 861 to 638 because the department has put more burglars in jail. If more burglars are in jail, fewer offenses will occur because burglars are more often repeat offenders than perpetrators of other crimes, he says.

Furthermore, the police department has refined how it assigns patrols, he says. The department now reviews crime maps weekly and adjusts its patrols to cover newly troublesome areas.

The rise in thefts from 1,827 to 1,963 is likely due to the national rise in identity theft, he says. Victims more often report identity theft than property theft, he says.

The first half of this year has seen a 23 percent decrease in total crime compared with the first half of last year.

Last year, there were 1,447 crimes from January to the end of June. This year, there were 1,114. The chief says cool weather so far this summer may have contributed to the decline.

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  1. Police answers to rising crime
    So the police department can do nothing about gang violence? This is the sum of Mr. Eddingtons advice and wisdom on this topic, gangs will continue to do what they want because they “are not intimidated by police presence.”
    What can the law abiding citizen walk away with from this statement?! Lock your doors and pass the ammunition?
    Why have other municipalities found a way to dramatically curb gang violence and activity in their community’s. New York being one obvious example. Their crime rate dropped precipitously after their police department instigated a broken windows policy.
    the theory is that crime breeds crime in an endless cycle. In order to stop crime at all levels you have to attack the chain at all levels. In other words it takes complete and total enforcement of all laws in order to uphold order and send a message. This is law enforcement without subjectivity. If it is illegal to spit on the sidewalk and a police officer sees you do such, you will receive a ticket.
    Back to Evanston. Are our laws and ordinances being enforced? I and many others have called police about excessive noise on several occasions. How many tickets are written for disturbing the peace. Yes, a police car will usually show up, and will sit their, but the noise is not abatted. Why? Because Mr. Eddington is right, those commiting these acts have no respect or fear of the police, but then again they manage to carry on with their anti-social behavior even when the police are called.
    I have called the police about excessive car stereos and have e-mailed complaints to the department about lack of enforcement. How many tickets are given for this offence? It would appear to be none, though I might be mistaken. I took last Thursday off work, and while grilling in the back yard heard four such occurences in one half hour. This is around noon on a weekday. Is the police department really too busy to enforce such a low level law on a weekday morning? It also begs the question that if I heard four seperate cars driving around Evanston and the police department has cars patrolling, why should I even have to call in a complaint. The officers should have to have me tell them what the law is.
    Not only would enforcement of this make quitter, saner neighborhoods, the hefty (not $50) fine could go a long way to filling Evanstons budget woes. Four cars in one half hour with $250 tickets, a thousand bucks for just enforcing the law. How many junk haulers would the city council have to liscense to make this much money?
    Make no mistake, these aren’t overly obnoxious teenagers with their factory stereos cranked up, they are 20 30 and 40 year old men who have spent thousands to make there cars this loud. With this level of disrespect and lack of consideration it would not surprise me in the least of some of these men (though probably not all) were of the worse caliber of Evanston citizen and a traffic stop (with cause) might turn up evidence of other illegal activities such as weapons or drugs. This could lead to safer streets for Evanston citizens. I am not stereo-typing I am basing this on observed negative behavior.
    With a rise in violent crime, maybe a new strategy is in order or someone with a new strategy.

    longtime and concerned Evanston resident.

  2. Parole cycle, perhaps?
    “He says that he did not know if there was any reason besides random variance that gang violence may have increased from 2007.”

    Seems like all the guys from the major drug busts a few years back are now back on the streets.

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