Matthew Mitchell.

The chair of a citizen panel appointed last fall to review the civilian police complaint process told Evanston aldermen Monday the group has developed a new, more user-friendly form to be used in making complaints to the police department about an officer’s behavior.

Matthew Mitchell said the committee had worked closely with Deputy Police Chief Aretha Barnes in developing the new form and that the department plans to start using it soon, without having to wait for the committee’s full report, now scheduled for October.

(A presentation showing details of planned changes to the form is included in the Human Services Committee meeting packet, starting at page 123.)

The committee has also conducted a community feedback survey, which drew 125 responses, has conducted one-on-one interviews with some community members and has started to work with the Fraternal Order of Police to gather informations from officers about their impressions of and experiences with the current complaint system.

The committee is also reviewing complaint processes used in other communities and has concluded, its interim report says, that “there is no recognized singular best practice” for all communities, although there are three different approaches most commonly used.

One, the “review and appellate” model, is similar to what’s now used in Evanston.

Another, the “investigative and quality assurance” model, gives binding authority over discipline to an independent entity outside the department.

The third, the “evaluative and performance-based” model, leaves control over investigations with the police department but has findings reported to a neutral auditor. The auditor, in conjunction with police leadership, makes final dispositions of complaints.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Leave a comment

The goal of our comment policy is to make the comments section a vibrant yet civil space. Treat each other with respect — even the people you disagree with. Whenever possible, provide links to credible documentary evidence to back up your factual claims.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *