Elgin serious crime increases by 5 percent, but overall crime down

  • Crime was down in Elgin in 2018, but serious crimes increased by 5 percent, according to annual data released Friday.

      Crime was down in Elgin in 2018, but serious crimes increased by 5 percent, according to annual data released Friday. BRIAN HILL | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 2/8/2019 7:49 PM

Serious crime in Elgin increased by 5 percent in 2018 -- the first increase in four years -- but overall crime is down, according to annual data released Friday by the police department.

"Overall, for a city our size and for what we do, it's important to know we are still at 40-year lows," Police Chief Ana Lalley said.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Rapes and criminal sexual assaults increased by 18 percent, with 47 cases in 2018 compared to 40 in 2017, data shows. In all but one case, the offenders had some connection to their victims, such as through family or social media, police said.

The department provides women's self-defense classes -- this year they will be in March, June and October -- and has added self-defense instruction to its "teen life" program when officers do monthly activities with teens, Lalley said.

Burglaries to vehicles also increased by 18 percent, with 361 cases last year up from 306 in 2017. The vast majority, 82 percent, involved unlocked doors, Lalley said.

The department will ramp up its informational campaign -- including social media videos -- asking people to lock their vehicles and not leave them running and unattended when they run into a store, Lalley said.

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There were three murders in 2018, mirroring the yearly average in the last decade for the city of about 112,000 residents. Police made an arrest in two murders and have issued an arrest warrant in the third one.

Elgin had its first fatal police shooting in 19 years in 2018; the Cook County state's attorney is investigating the March 12 shooting of Decynthia Clements by Lt. Chris Jensen.

Nine more people were wounded in shootings last year. One was self-inflicted, and the rest were either targeted or mistaken identity, police said. There were eight shooting victims in 2017.

There were 34 incidents of shots fired, about split among the east and west sides of town, and the second-lowest total in the past five years.

The department abides by the rules of the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting, which requires reporting of "Part I" crimes, the most serious kind.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

This year, Elgin police also compiled historical data for "Part II" crimes -- including simple batteries and assaults, drug offenses, DUIs, sex offenses such as solicitation and prostitution, and more -- and the number decreased by 6 percent compared to 2017. The total number of part I and part II crimes in 2018 was 10,717, or 4 percent lower than the 2017 total.

Lalley, who was promoted in July, denied that Part II crime data was included in the annual report to counteract the news of the increase in serious crime. Rather, better internal technology has made it easier to compile it, she said.

"For me as the new police chief, it's more about the information we provide to the public to have a broader picture to give them."

The department, which numbers 184 sworn officers, will be creating a "collaborative crisis services unit" to respond to mental health-related calls, possibly as early as mid-March, Lalley said. "That's going to be an endeavor that we are excited about," she said.

A continued focus for 2019 will be technology, Lalley said.

Following in the footsteps of the Aurora Police Department, Lalley said, Elgin police plan to partner with the Ring smartphone app, which delivers information about neighborhood-specific crime. Police also will install parking sensors in downtown Elgin, possibly as early as April, and will be looking for technology that minimizes staff time for things like redaction of body camera video and compiling of police reports.

"That's all time that officers can spend in the community," she said.

Lalley said she also will be exploring the possibility of using artificial intelligence for a sort of "interactive hologram kiosk" to streamline front desk service. "We are not afraid to think differently," she said.

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