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City starts ‘reimagining’ public safety

Mayor says he wants solutions developed by this fall, in time to implement them in the city's 2022 budget.

Mayor Daniel Biss, chairing this morning's committee meeting.

Evanston Mayor Daniel Biss outlined a set of nine possible topics for the new Reimagining Public Safety Committee to address as the group met for the first time this morning.

The meeting came just a day after the one-year anniversary of the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, an event that touched of a wave of protests and calls for police reform across the country.

Biss said the topics, many suggested by members of the new committee, include considering:

  1. The role of law enforcement in traffic stops. (Potentially having unarmed city employees, rather than armed police officers, make traffic stops.)
  2. The interactions between police and patrons at the city’s libraries.
  3. Police possession and deployment of weapons, especially items referred to as military-style weapons.
  4. Non-traditional police violence reduction strategies.
  5. Police radio systems and transparency questions arising from their use.
  6. Use of force policies and data collection involving those policies.
  7. School resource officer policies at Evanston Township High School.
  8. Ways in which the city’s organizational structure could be redesigned to improve interactions among police, other city personnel and community members.

The 17-member committee was announced by Biss even before he officially took office, and the committee and its members were approved by the City Council Monday night.

Biss says he wants to committee to come up with recommendations by early fall, in time for them to be incorporated into the city’s 2022 budget.

He asked committee members to let him know whether they preferred to meet weekly or fortnightly and whether they would prefer to meet in person, remotely, or in a hybrid format.

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