DeKalb police had the largest increase in drunken driving arrests out of the top departments the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists surveyed, the organization announced this week.
DeKalb police increased their drunken driving arrests by 44 percent, from 168 in 2011 to 242 in 2012, according to the survey. Organization leaders typically recognize police officers with high arrest numbers, but they are considering attending a DeKalb City Council meeting to honor the department’s year-over-year increase, alliance Executive Director Rita Kreslin said.
“If there is more DUI arrests in one town than there were the year before, that doesn’t mean there’s more drunk drivers,” Kreslin said. “It could be that they have stepped up enforcement.”
Almost 700 police agencies throughout the state were surveyed, with 84 percent responding. The alliance is a citizen-activist group founded in 1982 by victims of drunken driving, but has received a grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation to conduct this survey for 23 years.
The survey did not take into account how prosecutors handled the drunken driving cases once they reached the court system or the strength of the evidence behind the arrest.
Outside Chicago, Rockford led municipal departments with 699 arrests in 2012, followed by Naperville with 576, Springfield with 460 and Peoria with 426.
Publicizing the arrest figures, officers with top numbers of arrests and changes from previous years keep drunken driving enforcement a priority, even when fatalities associated with drunken driving are decreasing, Kreslin said.
“If we don’t have the officers and chiefs on board making sure they make it a priority, then you’re reading about more people who have lost their lives,” Kreslin said.
The survey also analyzes the number of arrests per officer for each department. DeKalb averaged 4.03 arrests per officer, while DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office had 3.21, Sycamore had 1.3, Cortland had 1.27, and Genoa had 1.
DeKalb Police Chief Gene Lowery credited the increase in his department with a new emphasis on proactive policing, including placing more officers in high-call and high-crime areas.
He also credited the officers themselves. DeKalb officer Geoffrey Guzinski had 30 DUI arrests last year, officers Brian Bollow and Ryan Wilkens each had 40, and officer Kris Mecca had 47.
“They have done more with less for longer than they should have,” Lowery said. “They do an excellent job for the community.”
Department Arrests Sworn officers Rate
DeKalb 242 60 4.03
St. Charles 135 52 2.60
DeKalb County 122 38 3.21
Rochelle 55 21 2.62
Geneva 48 36 1.33
Batavia 42 40 1.05
Sycamore 39 30 1.30
Sandwich 21 14 1.50
Cortland 14 11 1.27
Genoa 6 6 1.00