Evanston Police Chief Demitrous Cook says he’s planning a review of his department’s procedures, including its use of force policies, in the wake of the death last week of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
Here’s the chief’s statement:
“As the world and the nation continue to mourn the tragic loss of Mr. George Floyd, I want to extend my sincerest condolences to his family and loved ones. The death of George Floyd has been heavy on all of our hearts, and I wanted to take time to reflect and process my own thoughts and feelings before releasing a statement.
“The unacceptable actions of the fired Minneapolis officers were reprehensible. It was deeply troubling to watch, not only as a police chief, but first and foremost as a Black man. People of all racial and ethnic backgrounds are hurting right now, especially our communities of color. I’m hurting right now, but this isn’t about me. It’s about self-reflection as a department and effecting change in this field.
“Providing effective and efficient law enforcement service is every officer’s responsibility. It is our responsibility to monitor each other’s actions on all calls for service. Officers must ensure that proper protocols, de-escalation, tactics, equipment and supervision are being utilized. Officers that behave outside of these basic requirements tarnish the badge and make this work more difficult for the countless officers that show up to support, and serve the community.
“Being a police officer is an extremely difficult job. However, there is an expectation and requirement that officers treat the community they serve with respect and dignity. I recognize that we don’t always get it right, and there are always opportunities to improve. Accountability must be an on-going priority for the entire organization from top to bottom.
“I also recognize that the Evanston Police Department has a long history of effective community policing and problem solving. Our partnerships are strong and we will continue to move forward with creating public value. I have great confidence in the men and women of our department.
“The time for the law enforcement field to hear the people’s concerns has long passed. We need to get real with ourselves and take a hard look at how we operate, that includes the Evanston Police Department.
“Currently, I am working with command staff to identify ways that we as a department can review our own processes including those that govern use of force, and de-escalation.
“Once it is safe to do so, we will also continue our community focused efforts and programs, as they are crucial to improving relationships and creating dialogue. This healthy dialogue must be on-going and intentional. This is a real and unfortunate moment in history that as a community we can grow from.”