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Aldermen seek more talk on police complaint

The City Council’s Human Services Committee asked Police Chief Frank Kaminski on Monday to continue efforts to reach an understanding with the parents of two youngsters who were arrested last summer outside the Century Theater complex downtown.

The City Council’s Human Services Committee asked Police Chief Frank Kaminski on Monday to continue efforts to reach an understanding with the parents of two youngsters who were arrested last summer outside the Century Theater complex downtown.

The committee voted to accept police reports on several other citizen complaints which exonerated the officers involved.

About two dozen people attended the committee meeting and several complained that some police officers unfairly target male black teenagers.

“The perception for many of our black youth is that they’re being intimidated by the police who are supposed to be protecting them,” Judith Treadway, secretary of the Evanston North Shore branch of the NAACP said.

“I’ve worked with the police since I came here in 1990,” Ms. Treadway said, “I know there are good police and bad police, good kids and bad kids.”

“It’s very difficult for those of us who wish to work with the police department when we have stories like this coming to us,” she said. “We’re ending up with animosity toward the police, and I don’t think that’s what the police want to have here.”

Evanston police reported 10 formal citizen complaints against officers last year. The annual number of complaints has ranged between 8 and 10 for the past five years, but reached 18 in 2000.

Chief Kaminski said the department’s two-person Office of Professional Standards investigates citizen complaints and also handled 112 administrative reviews of internal allegations of police misconduct last year, which can range from domestic violence to being late for work. The unit also reviews police use of force and conducts other internal investigations.

Pat Gregory, a local school teacher and the mother of one of the youngsters arrested outside the theater on July 29, said that at the police station a juvenile officer cursed at her son and threatened to take him to the juvenile detention center in Maywood.

She also said police made her wait a long time before she was allowed to meet with her son at the station. The youngsters were eventually released to their parents and no formal charges were filed.

The police review of the incident sustained the complaint that an officer used inappropriate language in speaking to the youth at the station, but otherwise exonerated the police handling of the incident.

The report said a large group of youngsters had been standing in Maple Avenue outside the theater blocking traffic and that after initially complying with an officer’s request to move to the sidewalk, they later returned to the street. The first youth taken into custody allegedly told the officer he wouldn’t move because he was waiting to see a movie. The second youth was arrested after he insisted on going to the station with his arrested cousin.

An investigator reviewed surveillance video from a camera maintained by the Church Street Plaza management company, but reported the poor quality of the images made it of little use in determining what actually happened outside the theater that night.

Related Link:

Daily Northwestern – City reopens complaints of racial profiling

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