Elgin has 17% drop in serious crime this year so far

Serious crime in Elgin has dropped by 17% so far this year, with decreases in eight of 10 types of crime including homicides, batteries, assaults and criminal sexual assaults, according to police data.

Police Chief Ana Lalley presented the numbers Wednesday during a special meeting of the city council about the proposed 2020 budget before describing her plan to hire two more 911 operators and four part-time auxiliary officers next year. The department employs 184 sworn officers and 85 civilians.

Lalley attributed the drop in part to policing and prevention efforts and the community's response to them. Last year, serious crime in Elgin increased by 5%, the first increase in four years.

Still, registering crime drops is not about getting accolades, because a variety of factors can come into play, Lalley said.

"There are a lot of things - the population, the economy, the policies," she said. "Are people being convicted and spending more time in jail? Also, whether or not people report crimes. There's always that unknown figure because people are embarrassed or they don't think it's a big deal."

There were 24 incidents of shots fired, seven gunshot victims this year through Nov. 11, and one homicide - Tyler Bey, 24, who was shot in August on the 1200 block of Fleetwood Drive. Two men were charged and await trial.

In the same time frame last year, there were 31 incidents of shots fired, 12 gunshot victims and three homicides, Lalley said.

The numbers through October show the number of forcible rapes/criminal sexual assaults dropped by 35%, from 40 to 26. Batteries dropped by 57%, from 95 to 41, and assaults dropped by 35%, from 52 to 34.

The number of burglaries to motor vehicles dropped from 299 to 184, or a 35% decrease, which Lalley attributed to a ramped-up effort to encourage residents to lock their vehicles through the "If you like it, lock it" campaign.

"Last year we were up 18% from 2017, so we realized we need to do something. We are very specific about our messaging - we talked about it on the radio show ('Friday with the Fuzz' on WRMN 1410-AM), Kristi Hilton talks about it on the 'Monday Rundown' (video posted on the police Facebook page), and I talk about it at community meetings. I think the more you hear it, the more it sinks in."

Year-to-date numbers also show decreases in the numbers of thefts, motor vehicle thefts and arsons. Robberies remained even at 54 through October this year and last. Burglary is the only serious crime that increased so far, from 137 to 144, or by 5%.

Serious crime is called "Part I" crime under FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting. Elgin statistics for 22 categories of less serious crime, called "Part II," show an overall decrease of 5% through October. That includes drug offenses, kidnappings, lesser batteries and assaults - such as threatening to use force - disorderly conduct, liquor offenses and more.

Lalley talks about monthly crime statistics in her "Chief Lalley in the Fox Valley" videos posted on Facebook. The latest in October got 2,500 views.

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