Police chief, city council speak out on downtown Naperville crime concerns

Washington St. in Downtown Naperville
Donate Today

At the start of Tuesday’s Naperville City Council meeting, Naperville Police Chief Jason Arres and members of the city council addressed crime concerns in the city’s downtown area.

Downtown disturbances 

Arres said though there were no major issues at the Naperville Jaycees’ Last Fling over Labor Day weekend, there was some vandalism. Three total storefront windows were damaged at Standard Goods and BD’s Mongolian Grill on Washington Street sometime between late Sunday night and early Monday morning. Police believe it was caused by punching and or kicking of the windows.

There have also been several social media videos surfacing recently that show fights and arrests in the downtown area. One in particular showed police breaking up a large gathering of people causing some disturbances in the downtown area in late August.

“It’s important we’re not being alarmist, Naperville’s a safe town,” said Councilman Josh McBroom. “Let’s be honest, my reaction to the video, it’s nothing new. I’ve been hearing for a while that people are concerned on weekend nights going downtown.”

Arres stressed the NPD is taking the public’s concerns “very seriously.”

“It’s no secret that we’ve had a busy couple of weekends recently in our downtown,” said Arres. “We’ve heard a lot of conversations around this, and I’m sure some here have seen the videos posted on social media depicting large crowds and some crimes being committed. I understand how this could make some people feel unsafe.”

Arres noted that looking at crime data for the downtown Naperville area over the past seven years, year-to-date incidents had shown a slight increase over the past two years, but not at an “alarming rate.”

During the eight-month-period from Jan 1. to Aug. 31., there were 209 crimes in 2021, 216 in 2022, and 242 in 2023. Arres said the NPD has increased its presence in the downtown area accordingly.

“Every year in recent memory, we’ve deployed more staff in the downtown during its busiest months and supplemented that with specialty units when we see an increase in activity,” said Arres. “We will continue to utilize this strategy this year and years moving forward and add personnel downtown as needed.”

Downtown businesses reporting crime

Councilwoman and dais liaison for the Downtown Naperville Alliance Jennifer Bruzan Taylor said businesses are not always sure when to report a crime.

“They don’t want to be a nuisance, but they are noticing that their revenue streams are going down and they are concerned,” said Bruzan Taylor. 

Arres said safety needs to be a community effort, with the public and business owners being vigilant and contacting the NPD when they witness a crime.

“Naperville is a safe city, but it’s not a crime-free city,” said Arres. “I want to encourage everyone to speak up if they see something that is dangerous, suspicious, or illegal. Call 911 and let our officers respond, that’s what they are paid to do.”

If you have a story idea, we want to hear from you.