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Crime is down 4.3 percent year to date, reported Police Chief Richard Eddington on May 16. The Elmwood Street cab driver murder just two nights earlier hung in the air, however, though never directly mentioned, and took some of the starch out of the positive momentum in Council Chambers.
At the direction of City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz, the Police Department started its “summer plan” – an increased police presence on the streets during the summer months – a week early.
Additional officers are out between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m. and will remain so until Labor Day. Officers are deployed according to a “cops on dots” strategy, said the Chief, referring to the dots that indicate criminal activity on a map of the City.
Enforcement of the curfew passed to place the City’s restriction on youth out after dark in line with the City of Chicago’s curfew has had a “marked impact on youth crime and youth victimization” in Evanston, said the Chief. He said he expects the same to be true of the new truancy ordinance – approved in late 2010 – when it has been in place long enough for its effect to be felt.
Reports of shots fired or of a person with a gun are down from 247 in 2008 to 207 in 2009, to 180 in 2010 and 43 year- to-date in 2011, reported Chief Eddington. Still, he said, young people continue to resort to guns as methods of resolving conflict. The trend, while it may be slowing somewhat, continues despite community efforts.
Federal law enforcement has been contributing recently offering “a unique toolbox” in the form of more easily obtained wiretaps and federal money. “I think that within the next several weeks you will see the results [of federal involvement in police investigations],” said Chief Eddington.
The police department’s efforts did not prevent the May 15 fatal shooting of a cab driver on Elmwood Avenue. The crime was quickly solved, and a Chicago man charged. (See story on page 3.)
Even delivering largely good news about continuing reductions in crime could not overcome the pall of the May 15 murder cast over the report to City Council on May 16.
The Chief has said in the past that he believes that, even if crime is reduced to near zero, its impact remains just as devastating to its victims. Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl has said that even if the murder rate could be reduced to one per year it would still be unacceptably high.