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DeKalb reviews latest anti-crime measures

DeKALB – DeKalb aldermen expressed support for the different efforts police officers and other city officials have taken to reduce crime in the city.

Mayor Kris Povlsen said in an interview after Monday’s meeting that the different proactive policing measures – the administrative tow and the new housing bureau – were necessary.

“We do know there are people coming here into this community or live in this community really don’t have the best interests of the community in mind,” Povlsen said. “I was impressed with the fact that, when people are committing crimes...we have the ability to tow their cars.”

In the past 42 days, DeKalb police have towed 78 vehicles that were connected to illegal activity of some kind, said Police Chief Gene Lowery.

“We aren’t going out and saying, ‘Let’s tow somebody,’ ” he said.

Out of those 78 tows, Lowery said the fines for at least 60 cars have been paid outright. Another 12 cars have not been claimed by their owners.

Not everyone is a fan of the towing ordinance, however. Donald Henderson, director of Students’ Legal Assistance at Northern Illinois University, said he had a number of issues with the administrative tow during his comments to the City Council.

Henderson said there’s no policy statement connected with the ordinance, and as to why the fine for these kinds of tows are set at $500.

“Is this revenue?” Henderson said to the council. “If it is, let’s say so.”

City Attorney Dean Frieders said in an interview after the meeting that the ordinance is not about revenue.

“[Other communities] experience an appreciable decrease in the type of crimes this ordinance is addressing,” Frieders said.

Henderson said he has talked to three drivers who have been towed under the ordinance. He said it’s a fairly common problem for students who do not realize their license has been suspended because their living address is different from their mailing address.

People who lose their cars under the administrative tow are given a notice saying there may be additional costs for going through with a hearing. Henderson said this is not in the ordinance.

“How much are you risking further if you are asking for a hearing?” Henderson said.

Frieders said it is very common for people who have been found guilty or liable in an administrative hearing to bear those costs.

Despite the criticism leveled at the housing bureau when it was being formed, there was none leveled at City Housing Coordinator Carl Leoni when he gave his first report to the council

Since coming onboard in February, Leoni has opened 32 cases involving people committing crimes in and around their apartment. Of those 32, at least six of the cases have moved into the eviction process.

In his report, Leoni said there was a disconnect between the expectations of out-of-town landlords and reality.

One building on the 800 block of Greenbrier Road was boarded up after city officials and the landlord realized the building was home to squatters and some drug activity. Another out-of-town landlord didn’t realize his property on Lewis Street had received 13 calls since Jan. 1.

Leoni said both of these landlords are fixing the situation.

“We will continue to look for trends to give these landlords a heads-up,” he said.

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