Elgin is the Dog-Shootingest Town in Illinois

Cops-shoot-dog stories feature prominently at Reason both because canine innocence tends to arouse our sympathy in ways that our fellow humans sometimes don't, and because the worst excesses of law-enforcement behavior are often on display in such incidents, many times without apology. But some police forces actually seem to specialize in pooch-poaching to an extent that either casts their neighbors in a comparatively good light or shames them, depending on whether you find puppycide horrfying or just good, clean, thin-blue-line fun. The police department in Elgin, Illinois, is one such agency, around which our canine friends are well-advised to break out their kevlar finery.

The Courier-News reports:

Since Jan. 1, 2008, Elgin police have shot a total of 23 dogs over the course of responding to 16 separate calls. All but four of the shootings resulted in killing the dogs — significantly more than in the larger Kane County cities of Aurora or Naperville.

Comparisons with Naperville and Aurora are helpful here, because otherwise we have just raw numbers without context. So it's worth taking a peek at eighboring communities to see how they're doing. According to Wikipedia, Elgin has a population of 108,188 and a population density of 4,300/square mile. Aurora has a population of 197,899 and a population density of 3,711.5 /square mile. Naperville has a population of 141,853 and a density of 4,025.38 / square mile. Naperville has almost twice the median household income of the other two cities, at $101,894.

And how do Aurora and Napierville compare for puppycide incidents?

In Naperville, for at least the last 10 years, police have not shot any dogs, Police Sgt. Greg Bell said.

And Elgin police dog-shooting numbers are higher than in the biggest city in Kane County, Aurora. According to Dan Ferrelli, Aurora director of public information, that city’s police have shot and killed eight dogs since Jan. 1, 2008.

I hesitate to mention that "In the last 15 years, according to Cmdr. Glenn Theriault, Elgin police have used their weapons in the line of duty only three times in incidents involving people," for fear that officers might feel inspired to bring such numbers up, rather than to drive dog-shooting incidents down. But this also strikes me as important, since humans have intelligence and tool-using skills that tend to render them more dangerous than animals. And yet, police have used their guns against potentially knife- or gun-wielding people far less often than against dogs.

It might be worth pointing out that animal control in Elgin is a responsibility of the police department, but a separate agency in Aurora. You know, when you have a hammer ...

Austin, Texas, recently revised its use of force policy for dealing with dogs after weathering a shit-storm of attention over a high-profile dog-shooting incident.

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  • ChicagoTom||

    Napierville

    It's Napervill, not Napierville.

  • ChicagoTom||

    Of course I get it wrong when I am being a pedant.

    It's Naperville .

  • jdtuccille||

    Whoops! Thanks.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Hooterville?

  • SugarFree||

    "Naper" is Middle French for "taint."

  • Pagan Priestess||

    That sounds about right.

  • ||

    Of course I get it wrong when I am being a pedant.

    Textbook joe'z law.

  • CE||

    Sort of like when people try to sound erudite and pronounce it "areadite".

  • CE||

    It makes my grammar radar want to go nucular.

  • Tulpa the White||

    That's the Dave Letterman pronunciation, when he had that chemistry teacher from Naperville on his show. He had to have been intentionally mispronouncing it to tweak him.

  • ||

    "Here, you can have your old slippers - but give me Toto!"
    "That's a good little girl. I knew you'd see reason! Ohhhhh! Ohhhhhhh!"
    "I'm sorry, I didn't do it. Can I still have my dog?"

  • Abdul||

    I hesitate to mention that "In the last 15 years, according to Cmdr. Glenn Theriault, Elgin police have used their weapons in the line of duty only three times in incidents involving people," for fear that officers might feel inspired to bring such numbers up, rather than to drive dog-shooting incidents down. But this also strikes me as important, since humans have intelligence and tool-using skills that tend to render them more dangerous than animals. And yet, police have used their guns against potentially knife- or gun-wielding people far less often than against dogs.

    Reasoning skills cut both ways. A person can suffer a cop now and file a grievance later, or try and sweet talk their way out of a confrontation, or sheepishly face up to getting caught, or bribe the officer, or etc.

    Dogs only have bite/run.

  • JW||

    Dogs might also be able to work in wag tail/lick.

  • Abdul||

    Lick balls is an option that is all too frequently overlooked by all species.

  • ||

    "Chopper! Sic balls!"

  • ||

    Aren't you Teddy DuChamp?

  • BakedPenguin||

    And the preferred choice of cops everywhere.

  • niobiumstudio||

    Dogs and owners alike wish... The dog can get nowhere near the officer to proffer a ball licking without catching two to the head...

    A little inter-species erotica is better than a dead dog.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    The cops can't shoot my dog, since I don't have one. So I figure it's only a matter of time before the Commerce Claus is invoked to force me to buy one. How can the police enforce the law if I haven't a dog to shoot? It's obstruction of justice!

  • Tman||

    STOP RESISTING!

  • o3||

    ok enjoy, good humor there.

  • R C Dean||

    Commerce Claus

    I'm calling an RC'z Law on that.

  • RBS||

    Is that Santa's power mad cousin?

  • Tulpa the White||

    I wish the Commerce Claus only gave presents to the good Congresses.

  • ||

    The bad Congresses can't get lumps of coal either. EPA regs.

  • Paul.||

    They get lumps of wind power.

  • Paul.||

    I hear Commerce Claus will be visiting us tomorrow morning. I wonder what he'll leave for us?

  • Brian Sorgatz||

    Fuck tha Police(man's leg)!

  • Hugh Akston||

    But this also strikes me as important, since humans have intelligence and tool-using skills that tend to render them more dangerous than animals.

    Shooting dogs is just practice for cops to take on the Most Dangerous Game.

  • ||

    Jai-alai?

  • Hugh Akston||

    Parrises squares

  • ||

    This from the guy who thinks Cardassian pinochle is dangerous.

  • ||

    It is. I've seen more legs broken from that than playing tri-dimensional chess.

  • Hugh Akston||

    Epi's just upset because he learned the hard way never to play poker with a Betazoid.

  • ||

    Or a Klingon. They take "poker" literally.

  • ||

    Seeing as you take Fizzbin literally, you might want to lay off the Klingons.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    the Most Dangerous Game

    What's that? The baker's dozen at Dunkin?

  • niobiumstudio||

    Oh yeah? Well, I was hunted once. I'd just came back from 'Nam. I was hitching through Oregon and some cop started harassing me. Next thing you know, I had a whole army of cops chasing me through the woods! I had to take 'em all out--it was a bloodbath!

  • ||

    This is not the first time you have described your life in the way of John Rambo.

  • niobiumstudio||

    NO! YOU DO NOT GO ON A MANHUNT!

  • ||

    Uh, I'd spend a lot less time asking questions and more time running.

  • niobiumstudio||

    What is it with you people? You're touching each other's nipples, putting your balls in each other's mouths... I just don't understand your generation.

  • ||

    Cannibalism? Racism? That's—-that's not for us. You know, those are the decisions that are best left to the suits in Washington, OK? We're just here to eat some dude.

  • ||

    Leave him alone, can't you see he's crazy? (removes sunglasses)

  • Hugh Akston||

    Also, cops kill all of these dogs, but no one goes after the server squirrels.

  • RBS||

    You're gonna have to hit those with your car Hugh.

  • Pagan Priestess||

    The server squirrels can't be killed with a car. They are some sort of T-1000 variant.

  • Pagan Priestess||

    The server squirrels can't be killed with a car. They are some sort of T-1000 variant.

  • Pagan Priestess||

    Okay now I am totally freaked out. They know where I live....*hides under desk*

  • LTC John||

    I just hope the get electricuted by the transformer - happened at my old middle school three times in one year.

  • Tulpa the White||

    IIRC Naperville is almost entirely (if not entirely) in Dupage County, not Kane. And Elgin is nowhere near either there or Aurora, it's way up the Fox River. It'd always been considered a crime-ridden shithole when I was living in N IL. (My brother in law is a DPC deputy too)

    So, not the best comparison, though by all means the total is not good.

  • Chris Mallory||

    Every city/town/wide spot in the road in Illinois is a shithole.

  • Tulpa the White||

    Parts of Aurora are OK, as is most of Naperville. The region in between them is borderline Mad Max territory.

  • Paul.||

    The region in between them is borderline Mad Max territory.

    You know who else got his dog shot?

  • niobiumstudio||

    There are shitloads of shitholes across the US that are full of dogs and asshole cops, yet they seem to get along fine (there are always a few "isolated incidents"). I don't think the amount of a shithole a town is correlates to the amount of puppycide.

  • LTC John||

    Indeed - Elgin is north end of the county, Aurora is south end - part of Aurora is in DuPage, but I do not believe any of Naperville is in Kane (a small part is in Will County, God help them...).

    It got better here between the late 1990 through about 2007 - mostly driven by growth westward. Lots of illegals have self-deported lately, which makes for some strangely empty areas that once were absolutely teeming with folks. If you stay west, and out out of U-46 schools, you are OK.

    BTW - didn't I comment a few days back that my town was very dog-shooty? Little did I realize we are the champs. We're #1, we're #1!

  • ||

    I live in nearby Bartlett myself and can affirm that the western part of Elgin is pretty decent.

  • R C Dean||

    always been considered a crime-ridden shithole when I was living in N IL.

    Outside of a couple of wealthy suburbs, isn't that pretty much what N IL is? And I say that as a former (brief) resident of Mundelein.

    Which is next door to Libertyville, which I couldn't afford to live in at the time.

  • LTC John||

    You should have grown up in Rockford like I did... My Dad told one thing when I left home at 18 - "Don't feel like you have to move back here. Rockford has no future".

  • Paul.||

    It like getting a degree in History. There's just no future in History!

  • LTC John||

    And I got two of 'em (BA and MA)... grah!

  • DaveSs||

    Most of Northern Illinois is actually not too bad.

    Really once you get beyond 2-3 miles of Chicago city limits, the only really scummy places are Elgin, Rockford, Aurora, and perhaps Addison.

    If it werent for the fact that the above named places also have high enough population to dominate the State government Illinois would actually be a great place to live.

  • LTC John||

    You lump Elgin in with Waukegan, Maywood, Ford Heights, Blue Island, Stone Park and such?!

  • DaveSs||

    My view of Elgin may be a bit colored by the (compared to StCharles/Geneva/Batavia) generally rundown nature of the central and eastern parts of town and not actual statistics.

  • LTC John||

    True, hard not to look bad compared to the Tri-Cities. I used to substitute teach in Batavia in the mid 1990s - it was a joy to interact with kids that actually gave a crap about school.

  • Invisible Finger||

    Christ...

    Harvey, Markham, Dixmoor, Posen, Cal City, Dolton, Riverdale, Cal Park, Univ. Park.... I lived in a couple of these shitholes when they were merely lower-middle class 'hoods in the 70's... Basically anything south of 127th between Pulaski/Crawford and the IL/IN state line is West Detroit. And for the exact same reasons.

    And of course the Congressional reps were Gus Savage, Mel Reynolds, Jesse Jackson Jr..... basically the most corrupt pieces of human waste that ever walked the earth.

  • ||

    There are quite a few wealthy suburbs in the northern and northwestern Chicagoland area. Elgin is something of an exception, not the rule.

  • Tulpa the White||

    humans have intelligence and tool-using skills that tend to render them more dangerous than animals.

    This is such a silly statement one barely knows how to respond. Human intelligence also makes us much more easily intimidated, particularly by police. A guard dog doesn't understand the consequences of attacking a police officer, it just sees them as another intruder.

  • Mo' $parky||

    A guard dog doesn't understand the consequences of attacking a police officer, it just sees them as another intruder.

    And once a mad dog gets hold of a gun, look out...

  • ||

    Just throw Ke$ha at it...

  • Paul.||

    Tulpa, does it really matter that one of these doesn't understand the consequences of attacking a police officer?

  • Bee Tagger||

    Yeah, that line is an unfortunate (and completely unnecessary) one in an otherwise good post.

  • Pip from the forge||

    Elgin police have shot a total of 23 dogs

    Interesting. But how many haven't they shot? How many dogs live in Elgin? This is important. For statistics and stuff.

  • Paul.||

    But how many haven't they shot?

    The rest of them. Next question.

  • Pip from the forge||

    How many didn't bark?

  • CE||

    The LA cops shot and killed 10% of the LA population, according to an earlier Reason article. No comparable stats on pets.

  • LTC John||

    "Elgin police have used their weapons in the line of duty only three times in incidents involving people"

    The drunks stab each other (often outside the JJ Peppers or near the bus terminal) the gangstas shoot each other... most of our domestics give up when the cops show up. However, the canines do seem to be causing itchy trigger fingers.

  • Paul.||

    # of mailcarriers killed in the line of duty?

  • LTC John||

    No dead, one bit, but a kid got bit and that started the local press on its PIT BULLZ IZ KILLIN' OUR KIDZ!111!Eleventy! jag.

  • Invisible Finger||

    Can't they at least help the community by shooting squirrels?

  • Lucy B||

    Ironic since Illinois has some of the strictest animal cruelty laws in the united states. The cops have no issues with arresting people who they "perceive" are being cruel or negligent, but arent really policing themselves in the same manner.

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