Honor Roll: DeKalb Police

Whew, good thing I added that “Honor Roll” category the other day:

DeKalb Police Chief Bill Feithen informed staff at the Daily Chronicle this week about the arrest of a DeKalb Police officer and subsequent disciplinary actions taken. The officer was charged with driving under the influence Aug. 10 by Illinois State Police officers, who were called to a two-vehicle accident when responding DeKalb Police officers found an off-duty officer was involved with the accident. Police departments cannot investigate their own officers, which is why the state police were called in. The willingness to be open about affairs within a department says a great deal about the DeKalb Police Department’s commitment to the community, even if it draws criticism.

Criticism?! For what, failing to hire teetotalers? Please. They followed the book even when it was one of their own, then were completely open about it. All city departments should operate this way.

23 thoughts on “Honor Roll: DeKalb Police”

  1. Is it me, or are things operating a little differently lately? I’ve commented in the past about incredibly poor police response to problems in my area (a mix of single family homes and students), but if you look at the police reports on the Chronicle site, they seem to be cracking down of late. This could just be trying to do this with the students new in town, or maybe just giving more detailed reports to the Chronicle, but last night I saw for myself them respond to a completely out of control gathering on Locust (the Castle Bank parking lot looked like something out of a sporting event — complete full and more cars pulling in — Castle Bank lets this happen and acts like it’s not their problem, but I digress). Anyway, there were literally hundreds of people at one address and the parking lot and street were filled with yelling and screaming people and the occasional shoving match. I’ve seen the cops deal with this exact address and exact situation in the past, and it amounted to little more than them driving by and telling them to knock it off, and then leaving while 20 more cars pulled up. This time however, a number of officers showed up AND stayed and spent somewhere around an hour clearing out the house and the parking lot, much to my pleasent surprise. Any know if there some kind of changes going on? I gotta say though, back to my secondary point, if you’re going to start holding property owners accountable for the problems on their property (which I agree with — I know that makes me the minority around here), then I hope the police do something to make Castle Bank accountable for what goes on in their parking lot WAY too often.

  2. It may be to set an early example with the returning students but if residents appreciate it, then they should speak up and thank the police.

    In Saturday’s “Chronicle,” I actually counted the number of citations on just Wednesday and Thursday. There were seven open containers and fifteen minors with alcohol. I did not count the number who were caught with both, minors with open containers. Anyway, the minimum fine for both offenses is $200, which I think is way too low. If that were doubled to $400, then the higher amount should be put toward paying off the new police station faster.

    I think I ‘get’ the proposed financing. The bond people give out better rates when the payback money is from a stable source, i.e. property taxes. I bet folks here understand that. Some of the commentors on the “Chronicle” blog seem hopeless (but entertaining!), so I would not try to explain that there. But, there was talk about paying back the proposed debt faster through other means. I am for raising fines for naughty people because unlike vehicle stickers, there would be no extra processing costs for having higher fines for certain offenses. Anyone caught walking down the sidewalk with an open container of beer is just asking for the police to stop them. That should just be called the Stupidity Fine.

  3. Excellent thought Kay, I had a previous email exchance with the police about this that went fairly well, I’ll use that address to let them know that yesterday’s performance was appreciated. Now for Castle Bank . . .

  4. I remember back during the budget process the Chief was explaining the personnel situation in the PD and I think he said there were 3(?) officers who were out with injuries. Now another one is benched with a suspension. I would think that they really have to be cancelling days off at this point to cover all the shifts. Perhaps somebody here knows more about this?

  5. I cannot answer the question from Anon, but I will say that I saw a lot of DeKalb County Police at Corn Fest, as well as a couple of State Troopers. Their presence was appreciated and that would help take some stress off the DeKalb Police.

    Now, for Corn Fest. The “Chronicle” had a glowing report for the stores downtown, probably because there is already talk that Corn Fest will be back at the Airport next year, too because there is more construction scheduled for next summer. It sounds like the downtown merchants organized their own group sale, without interference. Downtown businesses should know what would work and what would not work. But, all of the vendors I talked to at Corn Fest had really low sales, some left early for the evening both Friday and Saturday, and made about half as much money as last year. Of course, that was ‘unscientific’ based on what people said and I did not talk to all of the vendors, just some of the vendors.

    A lot of that will happen because this is the first year for the airport. My suggestion for next year is to set it up differently. What happened is people came for the rides and did not look at anything else. There were a lot of people who came for the rides.

    The traffic Friday night was crazy. Everyone came up Pleasant because we did not know about taking County Farm Road instead. I was one of the ones stuck on Pleasant, from Peace to Corn Fest which took 25 minutes. I know for certain because I was to be there at 6:00 p.m. so someone else could go home, I figured I was going to be late, and I constantly looked at my watch. The set up for the shuttle, however, was very good. I planned on taking it but got out of work too late to catch the 5:30 p.m. shuttle and drove instead. The talk around the area was that there was a meeting very early Saturday morning about logistics and how to make improvements. Those running Corn Fest then did an excellent job in trying to get information out through the media to people about taking County Farm Road as a second entrance.

    I cannot repeat enough, though, that Corn Fest at the airport totally lost the hometown feeling.

  6. Corn fest can work at the airport. Not happy that there isn’t an area closer to band stage for parents with minors. My kids love alot of the music being played.

    Main problem with concessions is the fact that there really was no seating. Between holding vendors handouts and making sure the little ones don’t stray, it is very difficult to spend money on food and drink and have to stand to eat. I was there Saturday for the “free” corn and moved over to the rest of the event. Picnic tables could have been set up right through the middle of the food concession row and that would encourage much more purchasing. Really, overall not too many places to sit and recoup some energy. I also think that all of the food vendors could have been on the same row and did notice that Fay’s was doing an outstanding business.

    Vendors have to still realize that there are many tight pockets and Sandwich fair is 2 weekends away. Have to watch how we spend it at Corn Fest because we usually spend almost a full day making the rounds at the fair.

    Great potential at the airport for this event. I tried not to make an opinion about the move until seeing it at work but this may be a good move down the road for DeKalb. I really see more involvement with the airport and some more aircraft coming in. B17, Sentimental Journey looked beautiful taking off, flying overhead and landing. Have to save my pennies for a fly on this plane next year.

    New fire truck looks impressive, just wonder how much overtime this will add. Seemed over the top that the truck was following the B17 for each take off. I hope this is not a habit in the forming. This truck should be in the shop for a few more days. Dripping oil from more than several spots. I know its a used truck but if we are going to have it, should take a little more time and make sure its fixed right from the start.

    B95’s community stage was great. Nice to see the many locals groups and children and their talent. My kids liked the ride set up this year but too bad for parents pockets that the wristband deal isn’t all weekend. More kids to the site for a longer time and the vendors sell a little more food and drink.

    Overall, not too darn bad for its first staging at the airport. IMO.

  7. As for our police. They need community input to know where they are needed. I think the talk of the police station has added some input.

    Citizens being civil about their reports and the better the information, the more that the police can do.

    Chief Feithen was put into an awkward position by one of his officers the other day and he and the department handled the situation like it should have been handled. I’ve always had a respect for our police department(s) but until I became a member of the police advisory committee for the new police station did I realize how professional the DeKalb Police Department really is. DeKalb should be very proud of its department.

    Community involvement is always appreciated by the department as they know that the more eyes and ears they have the better they can do their job for us.

  8. Corn Fest at the airport becomes just another generic fair. Would Pumpkin Fest have the same charm if it was held at a remote location? No. Just because it can be done doesn’t mean it should be done. Instead of trying to make the airport work, they should be working on how to keep Corn Fest downtown, but my hunch is they want to have it at the airport permanently, regardless of construction.

  9. I agree on having more picnic tables, and yes, they could have put some in the middle of the rows.

    I forgot to add that the vendors I talked to were on the ‘last row,’ away from where people congregated. Location is everything, thus my comments on changing around how things were set up. I think the used furniture people did well, as they brought in deliveries of more stuff. They were not on the last row, though.

    It looks like they made some adjustments between Friday night and Saturday with the set up of the sound stage and the beer garden. I bet next year it is set up better.

    The jazzy band Junk in the Trunk was really good.

    A fire truck should not have to follow the B-17 on every take off. I will ask my dad about that. If the B-17 comes back next year, I bet he would come out for a ride in it. I think the helicopter ride people did well because that thing kept taking off frequently.

    The weather could not have been better, a little steamy yesterday afternoon but last night was perfect, as is today.

  10. A strange departure from the topic. :P From my understanding, for Metra service we need three things.

    First, Union Pacific needs to build a third track from Elburn to DeKalb (in reality, all the way to Rochelle) and redo all the grade crossings to accomodate that. It’s my understanding that they will be working on that over the next few years. Remember recently when they tore up the whole downtown to replace the first track? They still have to do that to replace the second track, and then again to install the new third track.

    Second, we need some sort of service agreement or membership in the RTA, which is the parent of Metra, which is done on a county-wide basis and probably requires a county referendum. There is expense involved for all taxpayers for the privelege of having this service.

    Third we need to build a new station. The existing historic station on Sixth street couldn’t be used even if it was restored to working condition because if a train were to stop there, it would block the grade crossings at Sixth, Seventh (major, blocks FD route), and perhaps even Tenth. There are also problems with the length of the platform needed for people to stand on in order to get on the train being greater than the distance between 6th and 7th streets. Furthermore the streets surrounding the historic station are nowhere near the level of design needed to handle the kind of traffic that a station would generate.

    The big question then is where would this new station be located. This is a question that needs to be answered now before the ReNew people renovate all the properties along the tracks in the downtown area such that we no longer have any place to put the station. Putting the new station to the east of the downtown area would lessen the number of trains passing through all the crossings but would inconvenience people especially from the university travelling to the station. Putting it to the west means it’s in walking distance for more people but there will be more trains crossing through town to get there.

    The last time I saw the ReNew plan it apparently was thinking that the historic station would be renovated and put back into service, which isn’t an option for the reasons stated here. In fact the reams of paper that DSATS puts out don’t seem to mention this problem at all.

  11. The 411 on the B-17, and the fire truck following it, from an expert, of course second hand, maybe I took good notes (?) :

    Because of its age, the B-17 has a gasoline engine. More modern aircraft run on something similar to kerosene. The B-17 is highly flammable on take-off, when an aircraft like that has the most danger, and is the most dangerous at take off. It is a fairly heavy plane, too, so it will take a lot of fuel to get up in the air. Once in the air, the aircraft is not nearly as dangerous. The fire truck chasing the thing on take off is necessary for the type of fuel it uses and if there was a fire, then the truck would try to put it out before it caused significant damage.

    Bottom Line: The fire truck needs to chase a plane with a gasoline engine like the B-17 but it should not need to chase all planes taking off, especially the more modern ones.

    Anyone can correct any of that if I got the information turned around somehow. :-)

  12. Rail service would be a real plus for DeKalb. Another area that might be pursued is to be put in Amtrak service. Normally they seem to work more with the BNSF than the UP, but since the BNSF has service to Rochelle, something might be worked out. When I worked out in western Illinois, many people told me about boarding Amtrak in Galesburg, and taking the train to and from Chicago for less money than it would take to drive it. Most other university towns in Illinois have access to Amtrak.

  13. Right on, Steve. I have always been amazed that we lack rail service with the tracks running right through downtown. What a boon for commuters and NIU students that would be!

  14. Just some thoughts on the rail service.

    First I think DeKalb County would have to pass a referendum joining the RTA. I believe that then there is a 2 or 4 cent per gallon tax on gasoline to belong to this district. Not sure how that vote would go.

    Second. Houses follow the trains. If train service came to DeKalb there would be a corresponding housing boom. The NO Growth forces may block this issue.

    Third. The overal cost of extending the tracks. Seems we would have had a better chance when the Speaker of the House was from our District. Not sure Foster has the clout but ever wonder why the Depot in Elburn is called the Dennis Hastert Transportation Center. That took alot of federal funding to get the trains to Elburn that I am not sure we would get at this time

    Fourth a prediction of mine from several years ago is that you will see Metra train service in Genoa before you see it in DeKalb. If Metra ever connects Rockford to Chicago ( which is in their plans) that line would go through Genoa and adding a stop there connects the entire northern part of the county to Chicago. Watch the northern part of the county then grow.

    Fifth AMTRAK Not sure UP offers AMTRAK service. When our kids come to visit form AZ they often take the train and we have to go to Mendota to pick them up or drop them off. I have never seen a passenger train come through DeKalb.

    Pevo

  15. I love Amtrak. They go through Mendota and another close stops are Plano and Naperville. Union Pacific likes their freight trains to get priority while BNSF is OK with giving Amtrak great access. BNSF owns the rails from Chicago to Burlington, IA, then I believe UP owns the tracks further west in the line that goes from Chicago to California. UP does not allow Amtrak in Cheyenne, WY which is a major UP hub. There is not Amtrak service on the Chicago – Elburn UP line (Metra) either. Amtrak does not go to the Chicago Metra Oglesby Station but it goes out of the Chicago Union Station (also Metra service).

    There was talk of adding Amtrak from Genoa. I do not know what happened to that talk.

    I believe Elburn cost so much because they added all those extra ‘storage’ rails to keep trains there that are not in service. I heard the figure was around $150 million to get the line added to Elburn. Compared to driving in Chicago traffic, I love Metra from Elburn, too. Life is too short to be stuck in traffic with crazy people on I-88 east of Aurora, or on I-90 east of 47!

  16. I may be wrong, but I think UP is expanding the tracks using its own private capital funding, as part of increasing capacity between the Rochelle railport and the Chicago system. I think they are doing it whether or not Metra is on board to expand its service here.

    If Amtrak/Metra were to use the Genoa route to Rockford, I don’t honestly think it would stop there. They may lobby for it, sure, but I don’t think it would end up happening.

    What would really be helpful here (in the event that our illustrious city staff reads this) would be to have some sort of comment from the regional manager of the UP line which goes through town discussing what the long-term plan is for this area in terms of railroad development. We kind of have a few pieces of information stitched together through word-of-mouth and observing the trains everyday but since UP is a business and this is one of their central corridors, they obviously must have this planned out somewhere.

    A downtown Metra station would probably negate the need for the ReNew project as market forces would make all the downtown properties immensly more valuable almost overnight. It’s the huge silver bullet we have but are not really exploring as far as I can tell. Instead we have to use our gorrilla-in-the-room TIF fund.

    A county referendum on Metra service would be the be-all-and-end-all uber-referendum on growth policy. I imagine things would get quite nutty.

    What’s the going over-under on when Springfield will pass the capital projects bill? :)

  17. Ah Pevo, I have seen a communter train in DeKalb once. :P

    It was many years ago and at night. Apparently there was a switching problem somewhere east of Geneva and a train that was making its last stop there wasn’t able to go back to the yard on the same track. Don’t know the story about why this happened but the train was stuck and couldn’t go back the way it came. So a totally empty Metra train had to travel all the way to Rochelle in order to change tracks. I watched it pass through DeKalb with a bit of amazement at the time.

    That’s the closest we’ve ever gotten to having Metra service. :(

  18. Having lived in DeKalb all my life and not yet ready to call myself old, I do remember a different DeKalb. I have to chuckle at how hard everyone is working to make DeKalb like it was in the 1960’s.
    We had rail service to Chicago, bus service around town and to Sycamore, at least two taxi services and a THRIVING downtown.
    As high school aged kids we took the train in to go shopping, to the Art Institute, Olde Town etc. etc. It went in in the morning and returned in the evening.
    It didn’t come with a housing boom, outrageous taxes, crowded schools and crime. Of course it was a different world then and maybe that’s exactly why you all try so hard to recapture it.
    Anything you needed you could find downtown. Try that now.
    Cornfest was a weekend for the merchants to sell their summer goods to make way for winter and there was free corn in the lot provided by DelMonte. Nothing more, just a nice end of summer get together before the start of school and winter. So the more we change the more we want to go back.
    I for one am all for it.

  19. My understanding that the current tracks are not rated for commuter traffic, that would be the reason for the third track. The other of course is the disturbance a passenger line would cause on an already packed and huge money making freight line. The commuter traffic would just cause backups and delays. No third track no commuter line.

  20. My prediction while everyone is guessing about a train stop and depot. I would have to pick where the Bethany Road extension will cross Rte. 38 and the rairoad tracks on the west side of DeKalb and NIU. It would give them a chance to build a new and updated station, plenty of parking space and a great location for NIU shuttles for students, easy access for DeKalb and definitely easy access for communities west, south and north of DeKalb.

    I don’t see how it could fit into the downtown plans and everything Pearl Street to the convocation center just is too small.

  21. Good idea, Ivan. Has anybody kept track of the plans for extending Bethany? That is a good long-term plan for traffic but iirc may clip one of our important aquifers, in which case development along that route will have to be done carefully in terms of stormwater and recharging.

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