Police shutter outpost on Howard

The outpost at 745 Howard that's closing today. (Google Maps image)

After 30 years, the Evanston Police Department today is closing its outpost on Howard Street -- a move the Alderman Ann Rainey is calling good news.

Rainey, who has represented the 8th Ward for decades, says the outpost is no longer needed to fight crime.

"The community has grown and flourished. Housing has improved and is of good quality. People speak highly of the neighborhood and crime is no longer the major topic of discussion," Rainey said in a news release issued by the police department.

The Howard Street outpost was established in 1987 in a rented space at 745 Howard St. and moved in 2001 to 633 Howard St., in a building the city purchased to establish a permanent presence on Howard.

The outpost at 633 Howard St. (file photo)

Rainey says many volunteers contributed to the renovation of the 633 Howard property -- from city firefighters to local landlords.

She says the outpost played an important role in efforts by south Evanston neighbors to improve the quality of housing and to work closely with foot patrol officers in the area.

It also hosted numerous ward meetings, block club meetings and other community events and has served as a polling place. The city has also used the outpost for staff meetings, a place to meet complainants and it was also utilized as a break spot for south end patrol units.

Police Cmdr. Joseph Dugan says the outpost helped the department have a positive presence in the Howard Street area and forge long lasting partnerships between the department and ward residents.

With the gradual revival of the neighborhood, in 2014 the city started looking for a commercial tenant for the 633 Howard site, and in 2015 the city moved the outpost back to its original, rented location.

After a couple of false starts in finding a tenant for 633 Howard, it's now scheduled to open as a French pastry shop.

But Rainey says the rapport established in part by the use of the outposts will not be lost. "The strong ties with community groups such as The Brummel Park Neighbors and Network 2424 will carry on and together we will focus on continued neighborhood improvement."

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