Chief Eddington

Evanston’s new police chief, Richard Eddington, told a small group of residents Sunday that he sees acquiring additional computer software to better track crime patterns as one of his early goals.

Whether it was the Daytona 500 Nascar race on television, or just the cold weather that kept people away, the turnout of about two-dozen people Sunday was less than a tenth of the number who showed up for a crime prevention planning meeting at Evanston Township High School earlier this month.

The chief said the Evanston department already has a strong community partnership program in place and has much of the software it will need to effectively respond to crime outbreaks — but needs some more to get the best results.

The chief said that with many young officers, the department needs to place special emphasis on transferring the knowledge of its more senior officers to the newer ones.

“We need to look for coachable moments, to help model good behavior from veteran officers to the younger generation,” Chief Eddington said.

And with many of the department’s senior staff nearing retirment age he said he also needs to “be a really good boss” to persuade them to stay on as long as possible to ease the transition.

He said the department, which has faced expensive civil suits over police actions in the past, can’t completely eliminate that risk.

“Policing is a high-risk business, and it’s unavoidable that there will be civil suits,” he said.

He added that the department has worked hard to train its officers and achieve accreditation for the department to help reduce those risks.

“In addition we have to mount an aggressive defense when those matters come up,” the chief said, “If you get a reputation for being easy, then you become a target for suits.”

The meeting, in the City Council chamber, had been scheduled to last two hours, but with the small turnout, the chief was able to answer all the questions raised in about a half-hour.

The new chief, appointed by City Manager Julia Carroll, succeeds interim Chief Dennis L. Nilsson, who replaced Chief Frank Kaminski, who retired last summer to take a new position heading the security staff at Evanston Township High School.

A second meeting in the crime prevention planning series is scheduled for March 3.

Related story
Crime down, but not out – Feb. 3, 2007

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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