As city leaders prepare to gather for a farewell celebration for Police Chief Frank Kaminski tonight at the Levy Center, residents are talking about what they’d like to see in the city’s next chief.


As city leaders prepare to gather for a farewell celebration for Police Chief Frank Kaminski tonight at the Levy Center, residents are talking about what they’d like to see in the city’s next chief.

At least in the far southeast corner of town, some folks are saying they want to see a lot more emphasis on busting people for quality of life offenses.

Chief Kaminski in bike patrol regalia at a bike-to-work event this spring.

Since his promotion to the chief’s job on Oct. 14, 1996, Kaminski has led the police force through a period that’s seen the local crime rate drop by nearly 60 percent.

The FBI crime index for Evanston in 2005 stood at 42 incidents per thousand residents.

Nationwide since 1997 the crime rate dropped about 20 percent to 40 incidents per thousand in 2004, the last year for which complete national data is available.

The chief has given much of the credit for the drop in crime here to building partnerships with community groups and having officers work with neighbors to solve community problems, in addition to responding to emergency calls.

It’s easy to find high-income, fast-growing, outer-suburban communities with dramatically lower crime rates than Evanston. For example, Naperville, where City Manager Julia Carroll worked before taking her new job here, has half as much crime per capita.

But if you compare older, more diverse towns that, like Evanston, are home to major universities, the picture is more mixed. Some, like Ann Arbor, Mich., have less crime than Evanston, others, like Berkeley, Calif., have far more.

Kristin Doll, writing on the 8th Ward message board after a gathering of neighbors last night, said, “It’s very important to deal with infractions that may seem minor, but are both quality-of-life issues and behaviors that create an atmosphere in which worse things can occur.”

“Such behaviors,” she added, “include curfew violations, loud stereos and stationary and moving vehicles, loud groups of people, people double-parking in the streets, and littering, just to name a few.”

While Ms. Doll said she believes Chief Kaminski did a good job on those issues, others were more critical.

John Hardy said, “There are plenty of laws and ordinances on the books, the police need to start enforcing them.”

“I have great respect” for the police, Mr. Hardy said, adding that the problems are very complex. “But sufficient law enforcement is essential, and not enough is being done in Evanston.”

Paradoxically, while the neighhors in 8th ward were talking about cracking down on some quality of life violation, the city’s Parking Committee last night was talking about lightening up a bit on other rules.

Aldermen on the committee praised a staff plan to provide improved training for parking enforcement officers to make them more sensitive to citizen concerns.

Aldermen noted complaints about officers giving tickets to someone parked just six inches into a no parking zone or who had left their cars briefly at an elementary school loading zone to deliver their youngsters to school personnel.

Chief Kaminski, while he’s leaving the city payroll, won’t be going far. His new job will be head of security at Evanston Township High School.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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1 Comment

  1. Crime in Evanston
    Junad Rizki
    The following is my statement I maded at Monday nights city council meeting: Evanston crime rate is still too – high lets not pretend it is not so. Go to CNN.Money.com for article on “best Places to live”

    Statement

    Ms. Carroll tonight I have two questions for you – as the former Assistant City manager in Naperville,

    1) Why is Naperville rated number two in the county and number one in the Midwest as a best place to live by Money magazine?

    2) Why is Evanston no where to be found on the list?

    It is very simple – Evanston has a serious crime problem. It has for years. On the quality of life index in the article – the risk of personal crime in Evanston is 10 times higher than Naperville and twice has high as the national average. All crime measurements here are higher than national average.

    Some of you on the council who have never bother to look at crime statistics – and understand them continue to point to the fact crime has dropped here almost 50% since 1997. A few of you who where here in 1997 might recall I spoke to this council about the fact we had a higher index crime rate than Chicago. Amazing in 1998 index crime here dropped 25% – in the press it was report that crime dropped due to community policing and other efforts – somehow the public was not told the measuring and reporting methods changed between 1997 and 1998 on a national basis.

    Interesting enough if index crime has dropped by 50% -why are we talking about added a special force of six police officers to deal with the rioting and fighting on the streets here? Why does the public almost weekly here have to hear in the press about street robberies, muggings, carjacking, home invasions and attacks on citizens?

    The bottom line is Crime in this community is not a police problem, adding more police officers is not the answer or making new laws. I believe our police force is professional and adequately staff. The answer is one; council members politically may not want to accept that is Evanston has a large criminal population living in this community.

    It is also time to admit you must correct the problem in the high crime neighborhoods in this community.

    Let me suggest a few steps

    1) Have the police admit which neighborhoods have crime problems.

    2) Cut any programs that provide aid to criminals – as I recall the city in the past has provide legal assistance for criminals with our tax dollars.

    3) Create major neighborhood change. I believe the biggest problem is we do not have enough home owners in the high crime areas. The city should encourage the conversion of rental properties to owner occupied buildings and single family homes. We need to encourage new people to move into the high crime neighborhoods.

    Council members when a father of young Evanston police officer tells me his child will not buy a home in certain areas of this town due to safety concerns. That is he and his child are afraid of the criminals living in the neighborhood. I think we have a big problem. By the way I know a former police officer whose home was shot up by criminals here years ago. This is not about the nonsense of affordable housing that police officers can not live here they don’t want to live here because of the Criminals in town!

    As I started before the strategic plan is a Flop because it simple did not deal with the major crime problem in Evanston. Mayor Morton stated that was my opinion.

    I have a question for Mayor Morton, is it safe to walk east from her home to Green bay road to shop at the pharmacy? Not too long ago several elderly women were robbed in the area by one of Evanston career criminals. What the press and police did not report was that one of the women end up in the hospital for over a month.

    This council is responsible that a large number of residents are being attacked and hurt on the streets in this town.

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