DeKALB – In response to a report that city crime rates greatly increased during 2016, DeKalb’s mayoral and aldermanic candidates addressed how they plan to combat this surge during a forum Wednesday hosted by the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce.
Questions were submitted anonymously by audience members, but DeKalb’s four mayoral candidates and two 4th Ward candidates who were at the Egyptian Theatre were all asked how they planned to reduce crime.
Mayor John Rey, who’s seeking re-election, said he is encouraging DeKalb Police Chief Gene Lowery to continue his leadership by creating crime reduction initiatives.
Rey added that educating the community and increasing its crime awareness also are important steps.
Since the most significant increase came from property crimes, such as motor-vehicle theft and burglary, mayoral candidate Misty Haji-Sheikh suggested having officers place business cards on vulnerable vehicles to remind individuals to lock their vehicles at all times.
“I’ve met with Chief Lowery on other things, but I’m trying to be proactive,” Haji-Sheikh said.
Michael Embrey, also running for mayor, said there should be more investment in high-tech items for police. He also was weary of community policing and neighborhood watch programs as they only occur once people need to take real action against crime.
Mayoral candidate Jerry Smith said that the increase in crime did not surprise him as much as the age of the offenders.
“What alarmed me about the report was that it involved so many of our youth and young offenders,” Smith said.
Smith called for more options in youth programs to deter young adults from committing property crimes and other offenses.
According to the report, the top female juvenile offender in DeKalb was 14 years old, had 104 contacts with the police and had been arrested 18 times, while the top male juvenile offender was 17, had 95 contacts with the police and was linked to 83 crimes.
Incumbent 4th Ward Alderman Bob Snow and Patrick Fagan, one of Snow’s two opponents, also fielded a question about reducing crime. The other 4th Ward candidate, Michael Bauling, did not attend the forum.
Fagan also called for more youth programs and an increase in resources for DeKalb police.
“We’ve got to give the department as much money and resources for them to handle this crime situation,” Fagan said.
Snow highlighted the DeKalb department’s partnership with Northern Illinois University police and how there has been more cooperation between the two agencies than there has ever been, and how it has been a great help reducing crime.
Second Ward Alderman Bill Finucane and William Lamb, his opponent, did not receive a crime question.
Finucane said that the City Council
must analyze the report DeKalb police presented to the council during its most recent meeting to determine if this increase is the beginning of an upward trend.
Lamb said it is important to get the message to local real estate agents that property crimes don’t just mean home invasions and lessees should take care of their belongings. He also called for more youth services such as counseling.
A forum for the nine candidates still campaigning for the DeKalb School District 428 board will be at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at the Egyptian Theatre.