Evanston police officers told the city’s Human Services Committe Monday night about an array of programs designed to improve the department’s relationship with the community.
Officer Sophia Syed said she’s met with representatives of Muslim communities in the area to build partnerships as one part of a broader outreach effort that also includes summit meetings for minority teens at Evanston Township High School and “Coffee with a Cop” sessions around the community.
She said the department is also working to descalate conflicts in the community by emphasizing concepts including transparency and impartiality in interactions as a way to overcome a historical context of racism and abuse of authority.
She said officers need to work to reduce emotional responses to stressful situations they encounter and focus on active listening and showing emphathy.
Sgt. Correa and Cmdr. Henry.
Sgt. Anthony Correa and Cmdr. Brian Henry described a program they’ve worked on as part of masters degree programs they’re completing.
It has them working with Kirsten Kennard, deputy director of the Moran Center, to set up a series of seminars for officers on implicit bias, trauma-informed policing and related topics, and also will involve the officers in meetings with 14- to 18-year-old clients of the Moran Center.
Detective Michael Cameron, a school resource officer at Evanston Township High School, said he teaches a class at the high school on law enforcement and does a lot of informal counseling of students, many of whom are interested in law enforcement careers.
When it comes to disciplinary issues at the school, “We try to take a restorative justice route,” Cameron said, “and try not to send kids down the criminal pipeline.”
And Officer Enjoli Daley, a member of the department’s problem solving team, described a Law and Your Community workshop that she organized for youngsters at Family Focus in Evanston last year. She said the program was so well received that the organization is trying to expand it to its sites in other communities.
A new session of the program, she said, started in Evanston on Monday.
“We develop relationships, we’re able to communicate, and it definitely has an impact,” Daley said.