Which suburbs are arresting the most suspected drunken drivers?
When it comes to getting suspected drunken drivers off suburban roadways, which police departments are doing the most?
According to a report Wednesday by Schaumburg-based Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists, few in Illinois are doing more than Gurnee, Lombard and Carol Stream.
Cops in Gurnee made 211 DUI arrests in 2017, a whopping 40.7 percent more than the 150 made a year earlier. That's the biggest leap of any department in Illinois, though Aurora (39.3 percent more) and Lombard (34.3 percent more) weren't far behind.
Gurnee police Chief Kevin Woodside credited the efforts of his officers, increased staffing and the department's focus on serious traffic offenses.
"We as a department put a lot of energy into the enforcement of violations that cause the most injuries," Woodside said. "DUI is one of the most significant contributors to that."
Of the more than 550 police departments statewide that responded to AAIM's survey, Elgin ranked second behind Rockford in total arrests, with 418. Other suburbs in the top 10 included Aurora (326), Lombard (313), Carol Stream (291) and Naperville (271). The Chicago Police Department is excluded because of its size.
Amazingly, about a quarter of Elgin's DUI arrests belong to one lawman -- officer Paul Dublinski. AAIM says Dublinski made 105 DUI arrests in 2017, ranking him sixth in the state.
On a per-officer basis, nobody comes close to matching Lombard. The department's 57 sworn officers made 313 DUI arrests in 2017, about 5.5 arrests for every officer. Next closest were Itasca, with just over 5 per officer, and Carol Stream, at about 4.9. No other department topped 3.53 arrests per officer.
Lombard Chief Roy Newton said it's part of the department's culture, ingrained in new recruits from the time they begin working alongside their field training officers.
"We believe in the enforcement of DUI (laws) and know the severity of it," he said.
With the department's reputation -- it's a fixture near the top of AAIM's annual lists -- and the myriad transportation alternatives out there, Newton said it's hard to fathom that there still are so many people out there driving drunk.
"Given that you can just touch a button on your phone to get a ride, I'm amazed at the numbers," he told us Thursday. "It's sad that people continue to put others at risk and put themselves at risk."
To find out how many DUI arrests your hometown's department made last year, you can check out the full AAIM survey results online at aaim1.org.
Celebrate safe, smart
You might not know it from all the booms and pops you'll be hearing around your neighborhood next week, but fireworks are illegal in Illinois. And police aren't likely to take a pass on enforcing the law just because it's a holiday, as Vernon Hills and Bartlett police reminded us recently.
Like most suburbs, they have ordinances prohibiting anyone from using, selling, delivering, exploding or possessing fireworks in the village.
"In addition to the illegality, sometimes people forget how really dangerous all fireworks can be," Vernon Hills Chief Patrick L. Kreis said. "The last thing we want to do is investigate an incident where someone was injured due to the illegal use of fireworks."
Sometimes it's the little things that add up to a big arrest.
Like riding a bicycle late at night without a headlamp. Or littering.
Taevion Smith is accused of doing both about 3 a.m. June 13 while riding along Royal Boulevard in his hometown of Elgin. And it was enough to pique an observant officer's interest.
According to a case report we obtained, the officer became suspicious when he got a closer look at the litter: a pair of mint-condition women's light-blue Nike sneakers with tissue paper stuffed in them, like at a shoe store.
Smith told the officer he found the shoes in a garbage bin after stopping by a local gas station, reports say. But the station clerk said he didn't see Smith that night.
"My suspicions continued to increase that Smith was involved in criminal activity," the officer wrote in his report.
He asked Smith to empty his pockets. When he did, police found several credit and debit cards with a woman's name on them, as well as seven gift cards, reports say. Smith said a friend had given him the cards.
Turns out the credit and debit cards had been stolen that night out of the woman's unlocked car, police say.
Besides littering, Smith, 19, is now charged with burglary to a motor vehicle.
It's hot. Don't get burned.
With temperatures expected to soar into the mid-90s this weekend, it's the worst time for your air conditioning to break down.
Which makes it a good time for scammers to take advantage.
According to the Better Business Bureau, home and business owners dealing with broken or malfunctioning air conditioners often fall victim to scare tactics. Shady contractors, for example, will make unsolicited phone calls or visits with offers of free service, then make recommendations for expensive and unnecessary repairs and upgrades, the BBB says.
In other instances, scammers will pretend to be air conditioning experts to charge homeowners for fake repairs or get into a residence to steal belongings.
"Scammers love to strike when people feel pressured to make a fast decision, and hot weather can not only be uncomfortable; in some cases it can pose a health threat," said BBB President and CEO Steve Bernas.
To keep cool and scam-free, the BBB recommends researching a company's background before hiring anyone, getting at least two estimates for any repair or maintenance work, reviewing warranty coverage, never opening your door to strangers or accepting unsolicited offers to inspect your air conditioning, and never paying in cash.
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