Evanston’s Human Services Committee Wednesday evening voted to recommend hiring two different groups to help with the work of the city’s Reimaging Public Safety Committee.
One proposal calls for hiring an “executive fellow” recruited by FUSE Corps for $180,000 to spend a year as a project manager and community organizer to help guide efforts to shift responses to low-priority 911 calls to civilian employees rather than police officers.
Nicole Richardson, the director of strategic partnerships for FUSE Corps, told the committee that 40 to 50 people have already applied for the position based on a preliminary job description FUSE has prepared.
FUSE helps experienced private sector professionals transition to careers in the public sector with its executive fellowships program.
Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) said she was uncomfortable “with this big price tag for this unknown person.” She said the FUSE proposal was “just much too general and vague.”
But Ald. Bobby Burns (5th) said the city has a severe staffing problem now and doesn’t have a full-time staff member to work on the reimagining public safety project.
And Ald. Devon Reid (8th), who, like Burns, is on the reimagining panel, said the group has been “hitting that metaphorical brick wall because of limitations in staff resources” to move the project forward.
The proposal was approved on a 3-1 vote with Revelle voting no. It’s scheduled to be considered by the full City Council at the Council’s next meeting, on Sept. 12.
(Earlier this month the city’s Planning and Development Committee discussed spending another $180,000 to hire a different FUSE fellow to work on a redesign of the city’s affordable housing program. That proposal is also expected to be up for final action on Sept. 12.)
The Human Services Committee voted unanimously to recommend approval of a $25,000 to $35,000 agreement with the Law Enforcement Action Partnership to develop recommendations for a community responder program, administrative alternatives and police policy changes.
Retired Baltimore Police Major Michael Hilliard described LEAP’s goal as making it possible for police to focus on law enforcement priorities rather than “wear 40 different hats” as they’re asked to do now.
The shift, he said, would let police do more proactive work to prevent crime.
Burns said LEAP’s work would involve an in-depth analysis of police call data to be able to better assess the appropriate response to different types of requests for service — whether that’s a police officer, or a community responder, or what LEAP calls “a credible messenger.”
The LEAP team made an extensive presentation on its work at a 5th Ward meeting in February.
All three projects are expected to be funded from the city’s federal American Rescue Plan Act grant.