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Evanston Police Chief Richard Eddington told the Human Services Committee Monday night that over the course of the past year officers had over 109,000 encounters with the public and those stops led to just 17 formal complaints about police behavior.

“We do pretty well on a day-to-day basis,” Eddington said, “but no system is error-free. We have to address the errors individually and come to a conclusion.”

During a lengthy meeting triggered by the arrest last week of a political candidate circulating nominating petitions on a downtown street corner, aldermen on the committee appeared to agree that most officers, most of the time, interact well with residents — but disagreed about how frequently that norm is violated.

Brian Miller.

Alderman Brian Miller, 9th Ward, said he’s heard of at least five additional incidents. “From what I’m hearing there are a lot of incidents in the community that aren’t being brought forth that are troubling to me,” Miller said

But Alderman Mark Tendam, 6th Ward, who, like Miller, is running for mayor, told Miller, “I think your vagueness and references to these incidents without further detail is not helping.”

“We’ve known for quite a while the things that need to be addressed, and we’ve been addressing it,” Tendam said, alluding to the city’s decision a year ago to hire diversity consultant Gilo Kwesi Logan to provide training for the department.

Eddington added that he’s currently negotiating a new contract with Logan to continue his training program.

As for the incident that triggered Monday’s discussion, Eddington praised the candidate, Devon Reid, for cooperating with the department’s internal review.

The chief added that he’s “terribly uncomfortable” that the department even inadvertently became involved in a local election.

“We can be perceived as being like the Praetorian Guard” of ancient Rome, Eddington said, “deciding who’s going to be elected. This is a place I never wanted to be.”

Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, said she’s sympathetic to residents who have been stopped by police. “I’ve been stopped for something that wasn’t happening,” Fiske said, “It’s really overwhelming — somebody asking for information, you feel out of control, challenged by people in a position of authority.”

“That’s the root of what we’re trying to figure out here,” she added, “what can we do to make the citizen and the police officer understand each other.”

Alderman Peter Braithwaite, 2nd Ward, said, addressing black police officers at the meeting, “understand our community is being brutalized.” And he urged them to have “direct conversations” with the police chief “so we can address the issues of those officers who are causing us to have this discussion now.”

“If you’re in a work environment where you know an officer who is mistreating people,” Braithwaite added, “you know who they are, and I wish you would do something to change that.”

The committee is scheduled to discuss police community relations issues again at a meeting in early February.

Eddington said the department is also planning a community meeting to discuss the issues which is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 30.

A report from the department’s internal investigation into Reid’s arrest is expected later this month. Two officers have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the conclusion of that investigation.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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10 Comments

  1. Thank you EPD

    Overall, the Evanston Police Department does an outstanding job. Yes, there are areas for improvement. Yes, there are some police officers who need more training. No one is perfect. Put your self in their shoes, and contemplate what it's like to stop a car at 1 am in the morning or encounter a situation with domestic violence. There are many other situations that most people in our community don't realize or appreciate.

    EPD is highly trained and professional.

    Importantly, when issues arise, the question is how does the police chief deal with them?

    To date, Chief Eddington has demonstrated integrity and professionalism which reflects well on EPD.

    Thank you

    TP

    1. EPD Arrest
      Thomas, once again you are spot on. The Chief is an honest and capable leader. My interactions with the cops convince me that we want the same thing–a secure Evanston that is respectful of its citizens. Before demonizing the two officers here, I think that we need to look at process and forms. Why was a birthdate on that form? Did the officers know that it was optional information? If it was optional, why wasn’t it labelled as such or omitted entirely from the form? Beyond the form, did the officers display enough curiosity before making a judgement that an arrest is necessary? Did they check in with themselves and with each other to see if they were doing the right thing? I actually met the candidate who was soliciting signatures. We had an informative and interesting conversation about the clerk’s office and I plan to vote for him.

  2. 2 murders this year, 3
    2 murders this year, 3 murders last year, 75 aggravated batteries/assaults, 31 robberies. “Our community”, meaning ALL of Evanston, is indeed being brutalized Alderman. EPD has done a great job in their efforts to keep a lid on some very serious crime issues that we continue to face. Of course officers need proper supervision but we owe them our support not condemnation. This ain’t Mayberry.

  3. Police Reform
    1. There are a number of Evanston Police Officers who behave badly. I have seen it. I record it. I record it all. This is the only way police will learn to behave like Citizens. I want the police to know the people are watching.

    2. Evanston police are not required to live in Evanston. This is ridiculous. I want the police who patrol my street to live on my street. This only makes sense to me. Give me one good argument against this.

    1. 2 reasons

      1.  Price of housing; police aren't THAT well paid

      2.  If you were a police officer, would you want your children going to school with the children of people you arrested or the arrestees themselves?

      I hope tht you are turning your recording into the Office of Professional Standards at the police department for appropriate action to be taken if indeed there is bad behavior.

    2. Safety. Officers kids could
      Safety. Officers kids could be in danger as their parents arrest both juveniles and adults that live and go to schools in this town.

      I would not want to be at jewel with my family and be confronted by someone I arrested or his family members.

      Does your employer require you to live in a certain area?

      Your statement about residency requirement is ridiculous.

    3. Recording.. Recording it All
      And how much time do you spend day to day in first…. actively seeking situations to record, and then recording it.

      And what is your motive? Are you looking to profit form this financially when you sell it to CNN? Or are you looking to forward a grievance… actively seeking to create a problem?

      I would worry a little more about yourself and your personal interaction versus policing the police.

      Your actions are extremely disturbing to me, and frankly should be to the residents of Evanston.

      And… finally, what group do you represent?

  4. Get facts before speaking

    My dad had a saying: Engage brain before opening mouth. The reported comments by two Aldermen given above proves the truth of that saying.

    Has anyone noticed that since Alderman Miller has declared his candidacy for mayor, he has been making statements here, there and everywhere about everything. They are frequently implications with no facts or specifics to back them up, as Ald. Tendem pointed out in the remarks made about incidents and police.

    As for Alderman Braithwaite:  I took his comments about "…our community is being brutalized." to black police officers to refer to the black community, and the implication was that police officers were doing the brutiliizing. Although, as one comment above points out, it could apply to Evanston. Where specifically is this happening? And his veiled attempts to pit black vs other race police officers is repulsive. I have found that officers are all one color: Blue. 

    Yes, mistakes are made sometimes. And there are procedures in place to deal with them. There are at least two committes, one a citizen group, that reviews all complaints and actions taken by the police leadership. It seems to be an open and transparent process. 

    I would suggest that the aldermen and mayor take the Citizen Police Academy, or at the very least do several ride alongs, to see how the department operates. They should also take advantage of the "Shoot / Don't Shoot" training senarios which are presented at various times.  (There was an article here in Evanston Now some months ago about a citizen who took this training, and how it was an eye opening experience.)

    Doing these things would make the council more educated about the operations of our police department. 

    1. Miller Time — looking to jump in front?

      You said it.  I did not pay much attention to Miller before the bike light fiasco.  That goofy display was, in my opinion, the unofficial start of his mayoral campaign. Now I see him popping up everywhere with unfounded opinions on pretty much everything as soon as the issue arises.

      There’s an old saying about leadership – if you want to be a leader, find a parade and jump in front of it.  Miller appears desperate to gain some traction in a crowded field by jumping out in front on any issue that looks like it might become a parade.

      A true leader does not shoot off his mouth willy nilly on every issue as soon as it arises.  A true leader wants information (such as data) and input (such as other people's opinions) then, after consideration of that information and input, makes a well-reasoned decision.

      I have not chosen the person who will get my vote for mayor.  But I am virtually certain that, based on what I have seen thus far, I will not be voting for Miller.

  5. Backward thinking

    2nd Ward Alderman Peter Braithwaite publicy said the "community is being brutalized" by police.

    Wow. No evidence, of course.

    A disproportionate amount of crime in Evanston occurs in the 2nd Ward. I'd say 2nd Ward residents are being brutalized by criminals. Yet it seems Braithwaithe is making Evanston cops the bad guys. And Braithwaithe I understand is running unopposed.

    Sad. 

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