New data from the state transportation department shows that while most Illinois police agencies have been making fewer traffic stops in recent years, the numbers for Evanston have increased dramatically.

New data from the state transportation department shows that while most Illinois police agencies have been making fewer traffic stops in recent years, the numbers for Evanston have increased dramatically.

From 2008 to 2011 traffic stops by Evanston police rose by nearly 38 percent, from 128 to 176 for for every 1,000 residents.

During the same period statewide the number of stops declined nearly 14 percent, from 196 to 168 for every 1,000 residents.

Evanston, which had lagged dramatically behind the statewide average for traffic stops in 2008, slightly exceeded the average by last year.

But while the number of citations issued to drivers by police statewide dropped 22 percent — even more than the number of traffic stops — the number of citations issued in Evanston remained almost unchanged — up just 3 percent from 2008 to 2011.

That means Evanston police are issuing a lot more warnings to motorists, and not generating much additional revenue for the city from the stepped up enforcement efforts.

The state data also breaks out information on the proportion of white and minority motorists stopped by police — to track whether there may be validity to complaints that police sometimes stop motorists for “driving while black.”

Over the past four years Evanston police have stopped a slightly higher proportion of white than minority drivers, while the statewide figures have shown that minority drivers are slightly more likely than whites to be stopped by police.

And in Evanston minority drivers who are stopped are somewhat less likely to be issued citations than white drivers, while that pattern is reversed statewide.

Related document

State traffic stops report

More traffic stops by Evanston cops …

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Revenue from tickets

    Before everyone jumps on the bandwagon about revenue from traffic tickets, everyone should be aware that the city receives very little revenue from tickets that are sent to Cook County courts. On the average ticket, the county receives $135 in court costs. Whatever the fine given by the judge, $50 as an example, is shared between the state and the city. With the huge increase in the mandatory court costs, many judges have reduced the fines, thereby reducing revenue for the city. Ordinance citations, on the other hand, are adjucated by the city and do not involve the county courts. All of the fines go directly to the city. By state law, cities are prohibited from issueing ordinance citations for moving violations. So, the police can not write ordinance tickets for speeding, stop signs, etc. They can write them for seat belt, cell phone, and equipment violations. 

    Just wanted to get the facts straight before the discussions begin!

  2. Slanted poll

    There's no way to respond to this poll without seeming to support increased traffic stops.

    My voice is against this increase – but I have no way to express it in this poll

    1. Good point

      I've just added a fourth option to the poll to meet your needs. Sorry for the oversight.

      — Bill

  3. Traffic stops

    I've said it before here and will suggest it again: at any intersection in Evanston  — stop light, stop sign — there is always someone holding a phone whiie driving.  Post police cars at any one of these, issue citations, and watch the revenue roll in, and everyone is safer, especially pedestrians. 

  4. As local governments go

    As local governments go bankrupt, they turn their police into revenue collectors.  Evanston's finances are at that point now.  Police will need to bring in more and more revenue, so fine policing will increase.   Also, fighting violent crime, that does not bring in as much revenue, will necessarily be paid less attention by stretched police resources.  Be careful out there citizens.

  5. Revenue versus the public good

    It clear the traffic enforcement are not really all about public safety, but is increasing turning into a revenue collection vehicle for cities. Our less than honest public officials continue to pretend its about safety when the talk out the other side of their months about revenue.

    The discussion in Evanston needs to center around, what would be the optimal number of police officer to enforce traffic safety versus serving council members desire for revenue or their pet projects about speeding.

    Wally B, has not done much to control police and fire costs, each year their budgets continue to show high overtime costs.

    The issue of policing in the community, will never be discussed honestly since for years the city has covered up the crime problems in certain of areas of town, pretending everything is fine. 

    The issue of racial profiling  for tickets came up some years back, now the police are profiling white drivers and others so they can meet numbers versus any honest enforcement effort. That is they are setting up more enforcement to wirte tickets in areas which have higher white population versus black. Cost and any real public safety beneifts are never a point of discussion, given our council members can't even understand the budget.



  6. What about writing tickets for noise ordinance?

    As one other post mentions, cellphone users are always on their cellphones while driving. Most are not using hands-free phones, either. We should be making a fortune from revenues if enforcement was consistent.

    Same with loud music while driving. In many cases, the music is so loud the vibration is nerve wrecking. I don't know of anyone in Evanston complaining about receiving a ticket/citation for playing loud (I'm talking excessively loud) music while driving. but I have heard several people brag about not being worried about the Evanston police stopping them or writing a citation for this extremely annoying behavior.

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