Residents at a community outreach meeting Wednesday evening expressed a strong preference that Evanston’s next police chief be required to live in the city.

The group also voiced the desire that the new chief should support a variety of progressive policing goals, from de-escalation training for officers to restorative justice programs.

About 50 people — roughly evenly divided between blacks and whites — turned out for the session in the Parasol Room at the Civic Center, which was moderated by Evanston resident and diversity consultant Gilo Logan.

Participants gathered around conference tables to discuss the qualities they felt were most important in a new chief, copied their priorities onto flip charts and then had one person from each table read off the priority list to the crowd.

City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said he would work with GovHR, the consulting firm the city has hired to help conduct the search, to incorporate ideas raised in the community meeting into the search process.

Joe De Lopez, a GovHR consultant who attended the meeting, said he expects the city will receive more than 100 applications for the chief’s job, which a draft of the job listing says could pay between $124,000 and $190,000 a year.

While some of the suggestions from residents might suggest dissatisfaction with the department’s current performance, some residents also strongly advocated for promoting one of the department’s existing command staff officers to the chief’s position.

Richard Eddington announced in July that he plans to retire by the end of the year after 12 years as Evanston’s police chief.

Under the city code, the selection of the chief, and all other department heads, is made by the city manager.

The draft job listing says residency for the chief “is preferred.” Bobkiewicz said that to require a new chief to live in town would likely require an additional financial incentive — such as the mortgage loans provided to him, Eddington and Fire Chief Brian Scott.

Such an incentive would require City Council approval.

Bobkiewicz said ads for the position would be placed with a variety of police professional organizations, including those whose membership is focused on women and minorities.

The deadline for submitting applications is expected to be Oct. 8.

Bobkiewicz said GovHR would conduct preliminary interviews with many of the applicants and prepare a list of the 12 to 20 most qualified candidates for his review.

He said he would probably select six candidates to be interviewed during a full day of meetings during the second week of November with panels of reviewers that would include other police chiefs from the area, police department employees and community residents.

He then plans to interview the top two or three prospects identified by the review panels and make a hiring offer to one of the candidates after final background checks.

Bobkiewicz encouraged people at the meeting to volunteer to be on the citizens review panel.

Related story

Police Chief Eddington announces retirement (7/9/18)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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