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Concerns aired about police tactics

West side activist Madelyn Ducre told aldermen this week she’s concerned about police-community relations in the wake of the fatal shooting last month of a Church Street man by police officers.


West side activist Madelyn Ducre told aldermen this week she’s concerned about police-community relations in the wake of the fatal shooting last month of a Church Street man by police officers.

Ducre, of 1929 Foster St., told members of the Human Services Committee Tuesday that some people in the community are concerned that police “are trigger-happy” after three shooting incidents by officers in the past year.

In addition to the incident April 26 in which officers shot and killed a man who they said was threatening them with a knife, Ducre noted two incidents last October.

On Oct. 8 a police officer and a suspect in a domestic violence case on Pitner Avenue were both shot. And on Oct. 23 a knife-wielding homeless man was shot by an officer on a downtown street. Neither of those incidents resulted in fatalities.

“We are concerned about police safety,” Ducre said, “We need policemen, but we also need a police force that does the right thing for the community.”

Police chief Richard Eddington said the state police public integrity task force investigates all officer-involved shootings and that he expects to receive a preliminary report on the latest incident shortly.

In the two earlier incidents the task force concluded that officers involved acted appropriately.

“I think outside review is critical” to assuring the public that such incidents are investigated fairly, Eddington added.

He said the latest incident started as a landlord-tenant dispute that led to multiple 911 calls from neighbors who believed the landlord was at risk from the tenant, who was armed with a knife. Police say they shot the man after he lunged at them with the knife.

On a related issue, Ducre said that at a recent 5th Ward community meeting “a lot of people were really concerned and upset about people being stopped by officers for no reason at all.”

5th Ward Alderman Delores Holmes said the chief was at the meeting and residents were also concerned about many incidents of gunfire being heard “all throughout the community.”

“Are people being stopped just for nothing? Well you have to weigh that in terms of if you want to get guns off the street — the only way you can do that is to have stops,” Holmes said.

“No one wants any shootings,” Ducre responded, “But the police can’t just go stopping everyone in the 5th Ward. They have rights too. People know that’s not going on in other parts of Evanston, so it’s causing resentment.”

Eddington said the department is investigating several complaints of improper stops by officers, and that, based on concerns expressed at the ward meeting, he’s asked Deputy Chief Demetrious Cook to split his time between day and afternoon shifts to provide closer supervision of the specialized units under his command that were the subject of some of the complaints.

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