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.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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5 Comments

  1. Support for our Police Force
    “Trigger happy”??? Three incidents, all of which were justifiable uses of deadly force, in the last 7 months certainly is not deserving of the term “trigger happy”. I am shocked that this town does not have more incidents such as this. Our Police Officers are often found in situations that could justify use of deadly force and show great restraint and professionalism. Ducre states “We need policemen, but we also need a police force that does the right thing for the community.” Well, I submit to you Ms. Ducre, that you do have a Police force that ‘does the right thing’. In all three incidents they utilized their training, common sense, and courage to protect themselves,their partners, and the community. Do you truly believe that any Police Officer on our Department wants to go to work and kill another human being? Do you think they want to subject themselves to that intensly moral decision that must be made within seconds? How about showing some empathy for those Officers involved who now have to struggle with the post traumatic stress? I would suggest you start with the Officer who had to have his finger amputated that evening. Ask him if he went to work that Sunday afternoon with the hope he would find himself physically challenged for the rest of his life. You don’t have that kind of courage. I would like to hear her definition of what the ‘right thing’ is. I suspect it would include having the Officers shoot the knife from the man’s hand or some other ‘movie heroism’.

    Lastly, I am well aware of those people in the 5th ward who are complaining of ‘Police harrassment’. Nearly all that complained are from well known troubled families with extensive criminal backgrounds.They know the routine.It’s known throughout my community. Make enough noise and threaten harrassment charges and the Police will back down. Therefore allowing you more freedom to do as you please. Unfortunately, us- the law abiding citizens suffer because the Police reduce the pressure on these individuals simply to quiet the noise. Thank you Alderman Holmes for your support and assistance.

  2. Crime problems in the 5th and 8th wards
    It time the people who live in the 5th and 8th wards admit they have a crime problem.

    These areas of town have a high percent of criminals living in them, with the city pretending there are no problems.

    Those pretending the police are causing a problem, need to face a reality check.

    1. Admit 8th Ward Crime Problem?
      Who isn’t admitting that the 8th Ward has a crime problem? We here in the 8th Ward have no problem admitting it. In fact, we have been trying to get our City leaders and residents outside the 8th Ward to notice as well.

      Ann Rainey has been and is a tremendous alderperson for the 8th Ward. But the City of Evanston has made a number of choices, including placement of subsidized low-income housing, that has affected the population of the 8th Ward. Another example: the City’s pursuit of slumlords needs to be much, much more aggressive.

      When the City makes these choices, resulting in low-income individuals being stacked heavily only certain areas of town, there will be certain results, including higher levels of crime. Those choices by the City mean that we need much more police presence and action in the 8th Ward.

      I hope that Mayor-elect Tisdahl will help guide the Council to accept responsibility for creating this situation and then to take action to address it.

      First step: stop stacking low-income housing in the 8th Ward. That spending seems to have been a waste anyway, considering how many of those properties are sitting empty and are on the verge of foreclosure.

      And the Evanston Police are not trigger happy. When several neighbors call 911 about a man with a knife and that man attacks a police officer with a knife, the police need to shoot that man. It’s sad but it is not the police officers’ fault that that man put everyone, including himself, in harm’s way.

      Shame, shame on those who want gunfire and other crime in their neighborhood to stop but want police to eliminate that crime without ever using their weapons. Perhaps the police should carry Silly String or whiffle bats instead of guns to defend themselves and our community?

      1. Be careful what you ask for….
        Evanston has always struggled with trying to live in two worlds. The city wants to be associated with the “Northshore” crowds in Wilmette, Winetka, Glencoe,Etc. but yet they want to be welcoming to everyone. They want to be seen as the liberal leader of the suburbs. Well, guess what?…you can’t have it both ways. You want and accept a large portion of ‘diverse-low income’ housing opportunities for all? Well then you have to accept what goes along with it. The end result is slum lords, crime, and a large population of residents that don’t respect the hard working citizens of this community. If we are forced by the government to accept a portion of ‘affordable housing’ then do the minimum. If you want to go above and beyond that…then you’d better be ready for what it brings. Nothing is free!

  3. Stating the obvious
    “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.”

    What a great comment. Of course random stops aren’t going on in other wards because daily shootings aren’t happening in other wards. Doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out, only a conspiracy theorist.

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