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DeKalb, NIU police to step up patrols on northwest side of town

DeKALB – Officers from the DeKalb and Northern Illinois University police departments are working together to increase patrols in the northwest side of the city in an effort to deter crime, administrators from both agencies said.

There have been 12 robberies since the start of the academic year in August, DeKalb Police Chief Bill Feithen said, with five of them happening from Nov. 6-8. That's two fewer robberies than last year, Feithen said, but it's still a high number.

Several of the robberies have occurred on streets – including Edgebrook, Hillcrest and Ridge drives – just north of the main NIU campus, which also is an area with a heavy concentration of student housing.

NIU Police Lt. Darren Mitchell said Feithen called him Tuesday to ask for assistance, and Feithen, Mitchell and NIU Lt. Todd Henert sat down Thursday to work out the details.

"Our response was, of course, we would give him any assistance that he needed," Mitchell said. "What we want to do is have more of a police presence in those areas where the robberies were concentrated, to make sure the public see us in an effort to deter any future robberies."

The additional manpower from NIU Police will allow for increased patrols in the areas where recent robberies have occurred, Feithen said. The best evidence and the best chance at catching criminals often comes from the patrol officers responding to the call, he said.

"For obvious reasons, we can't divulge the number of officers, nor can we divulge times or the deployment specifics," Feithen said.

The robberies have occurred as DeKalb Police face difficulties in its staffing, Feithen said. The department has several officers out for various reasons, he said, and also is operating under a hiring freeze.

"What we have found ourselves doing more and more is having to react due to low manpower," Feithen said. "We have to react to the crimes instead of being able to be proactive."

Since it is a state institution, university police have jurisdiction throughout the state, Mitchell said. NIU Police have authority in any county where the school has authority, he said.

Many of the victims of the robberies have been NIU students, Mitchell said, noting that the community as a whole has expressed concern about the robberies.

"We want to do whatever we can to deter crime in this area, and at the same time, maintain a safe atmosphere on campus and work with any law enforcement agency to address crime issues," Mitchell said.

"We are appreciative for the additional support that NIU is providing to help keep not only the local residents who live in that area safe, but also the students that are living in that area," Feithen said. "We look forward to working on this project together."

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