Evanston Police Chief Richard Eddington and NAACP Chapter President Michael Nabors met at Mason Park this morning to sign a set of 10 “shared principles” they hope will build trust between law enforcement and communities of color.

The statement of principles was agreed to at the state level between the civil rights group and the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police in March.

Nabors said, “We’re excited about the opportunity this provides us to sit down and dialogue and engage in partnerships and collaborations.”

Michael Nabors.

He said the goal is to bring different sections of the community together to address issues.

“We’re going to have problems, that’s human nature,” he added, “But when issues come up, if we’ve developed a relationship, it will be easier to address them.”

He said the state-level document has been modified to respond to Evanston conditions. “We’re looking to collaborate, ways where we can sit down and talk and figure out how we can improve relations in our community.”

The document, he said, is not a panacea, “We know there are issues that have to be addressed, but the document provides a framework for trying to address them.”

He said he hopes to arrange meetings in local churches and other venues where police and community residents can work together.

Richard Eddington.

Chief Eddington said at the state level the chiefs’ group and the NAACP recognized that the friction between police and communities of color needed to be addressed and wanted to commit to shared principles to address them.

“If there’s an issue in the community, we need to have trusted partners for people to go to” who can bring the issue to the chief’s attention, he added.

“The trust factor that the NAACP already has is huge in getting to the cause of a lot of these issues,” Eddington said.

“In my line of work we always say it’s really, really hard to make friends in a crisis,” Eddington said, “We need to meet you before something’s gone wrong.”

Mayor Steve Hagerty said he’s proud that Evanston is one of the communities where the police chief and the head of the NAACP have gotten together to agree on shared principles.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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