Several McHenry County municipalities experienced a slight increase in overall violent crime between 2016 and 2017, according to an annual FBI report, but local police departments have said they’re using community resources and promoting awareness to help stem the tide.
The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program tracks law enforcement agencies’ known instances of violent crime each year, including homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault. Numbers for 2018 have not yet been compiled.
Although most cities experienced a small increase in overall violent crime, instances of aggravated assault were down in some of the most populous areas throughout the county, the report shows. In villages such as Cary, which had 18 aggravated assault reports in 2016 and 13 in 2017, police said they continue efforts to curb the rate of violent crimes by connecting perpetrators and victims with community resources.
“It’s a strategy to try to intervene and introduce services so we’re reducing the likelihood of further instances of us having to respond,” Cary Police Chief Patrick Finlon said.
Reporting agencies with the largest populations – Crystal Lake, Lake in the Hills and McHenry – experienced two to nine more reports of violent crimes in 2017 compared with 2016. One case in Crystal Lake raised the city’s homicide count from zero to two in the yearlong span.
Crystal Lake police responded Aug. 3 to 185 Marian Parkway, Crystal Lake, after receiving a report of a woman armed with a knife. Before police arrived, they also learned that a man with a handgun, later identified as Ryan Yarber, was at the house, authorities have said.
Police found 31-year-old Allania Yarber and her 15-year-old sister, Anniyah Reynolds, dying of multiple gunshot wounds inside the home. Officers tried to save their lives, but both died at the scene. Prosecutors have said Yarber shot the two multiple times with a firearm while other children were present in the home, according to court documents. He has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder charges and awaits trial in McHenry County.
To prevent the rate of offenses such as homicide, assault and rape, police encourage residents to report crimes when they happen so officers can intervene. The Crystal Lake Police Department, for example, tends to notice a spike in sexual assault and abuse reports after state-mandated sexual abuse education programs at local schools, Crystal Lake Deputy Police Chief Thomas Kotlowski said.
Erin’s Law, named after childhood sexual assault survivor and activist Erin Merynn, requires public schools to implement sexual abuse prevention programs.
“They talk about what is a good touch and bad touch, and try to erase some of what, in years’ past, has been either an embarrassment and a fear of reporting,” Kotlowski said.
McHenry had the highest number of rape reports in 2017. The 25 reports last year is almost double that of the 13 reports from 2016. Lake in the Hills and Crystal Lake had the second and third most reports of rape in 2017, with 14 and 11 instances, respectively. Both Lake in the Hills and Crystal Lake reported eight instances of rape in 2016. The three municipalities also have the highest populations of the reporting agencies in McHenry County.
By law, police in Illinois are required to take reports of all rape allegations they receive, including those that might have happened in a different jurisdiction or several years previously.
“There are some things that you can help prevent, and there are some that you cannot,” Kotlowski said. “When it comes to violent crimes and crimes against persons, those are based on the number of victims and not the number of incidents.”
A majority of Crystal Lake’s aggravated assault incidents are matters of domestic violence, he said. The Crystal Lake Police Department, along with several others throughout the county, have made a point to connect both perpetrators and victims with resources such as Turning Point of McHenry County, which could address underlying problems, in an effort to stop the cycle of abuse, Kotlowski said.
McHenry County State’s Attorney Patrick Kenneally has attributed a 20 percent decrease in domestic violence cases countywide between 2016 and 2017 to increased mental health awareness, a turn in the economy and an overall domestic violence awareness.