Three aldermen told Evanston’s new police chief Monday night that city residents expect more respectful treatment when they’re stopped by police.

And the chief, Demitrous Cook. pledged to conduct more reviews of body camera footage to spot instances where officers aren’t treating residents properly and take corrective action.

Alderman Robin Rue Simmons, 5th Ward, said during the Human Services Committee meeting that complaints she’s getting from residents recently “have all been about attitude and respect.”

She said it’s not so much the physical actions by officers, but “unnecessary sarcasm and disrespect” that are raising concerns.

Demitrous Cook.

Cook said, “That’s what’s great about body cameras. They paint a picture” of what was done and what was said.

He said he planned to increase random audits of body camera footage in which supervisors review a selection of videos looking for situations that weren’t handled appropriately.

“We can use those for traiining, to show officers what not to do,” Cook said.

Simmons said officers need to understand “how a black man might respond differently to certain forms of engagement from a police officer,” that officers need to be sensitive to cultural differences.

“We are all Americans,” Cook responded. “We all understand respect, and how we’re supposed to interact in personal communication with people.”

“That’s an ongoing issue in law enforcement.”

Cook added that instances of officers saying inappropriate things that are captured on video can also make it harder to get a conviction.

“All that video gets pushed out to the state’s attorney’s office,” he said, “and we don’t want to jeopardize a case based on personal attitudes that may be inappropriate.”

Aldermen Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, and Cicely Fleming, 9th Ward, said they were concerned about comments by officers noted in some of the police complaint incidents that were before the committee for review, and the committee postponed a vote on those reports until after the members could look at videos of the incidents in executive session.

“We don’t have officers committing big crimes, but we do have citizens feeling disrespected” because of the tone or language that officers use.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. What is the Chief going to do about gang violence
    Did the Chief say anything about what the police are going to do about gang violence?

    Last week Dominic Connerly was sentenced to 15 years in prison for the 2013 killing of Floyd Gilbert and the Tribune quoted the judge in the case as saying the violence “has to stop.”

    This should be a priority for the new Chief.

    1. The squeaky wheel gets the

      The squeaky wheel gets the oil. The chief doesn’t get to prioritize what he wants to address or what the officers want to address without the elected officials and residents having the same priorities. Prime example is this article…the aldermen wanted to address officers being unnecessarily sarcastic and residents not feeling respected. Not saying they don’t care about gang violence but that’s not their present concern apparently. A chief can come in and shut down gangs and stop drug sales but if the residents and aldermen are concerned with something else…they don’t care about all the other good stuff the department did. There isn’t normal chief anywhere that doesn’t want to obliterate violent crime. What that chief does to achieve that end is usually dictated by the politicians and the residents.

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