The Evanston Police Department’s detective bureau is no longer staffed on weekends, because of the ongoing shortage of sworn police officers.

While detectives can be called in during the weekend if needed, what used to be two shifts, seven-days-per-week has been reduced to five days.

Cmdr. Ryan Glew, the department’s spokesperson, tells Evanston Now that while EPD is authorized to have 154 members, the number is currently at 128, “a relatively swift and significant decline in a couple of years for our work force.”

Reducing detective bureau hours, Glew says, “is one of the compromises we’ve had to make as we go through these staffing issues.”

In an effort to build sworn strength back up, a recruitment drive is currently under way. The application period ends July 18.

EPD is looking to hire new officers, as well as bring on others who have experience with different departments (“lateral hires”).

Police on the scene of a carjacking incident on Chicago Avenue in downtown Evanston in December.

The department’s downsizing was primarily done to save money, and the cuts came through attrition, such as retirements and resignations, rather than by layoffs.

Many of the vacant positions were then not filled.

The nationwide “defund the police” movement following the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis also made it less politically popular to advocate for hiring more cops.

Interim Chief Richard Eddington told Evanston Now several weeks ago that this has been the most difficult climate for police officers since the Rodney King incident in 1991.

Eddington said, however, that it now appears the “defund” movement is lessening as citizens see crime on the rise, and police staffing not keeping up.

While staffing has shrunk, the workload has not, leaving current officers more to do with fewer colleagues in a job already filled with pressure.

Officers at a police appreciation ceremony May 24 organized by the city’s police clergy team.

Whenever a new, permanent police chief is appointed, adding street strength will be one of the major issues to address.

City council has final say on how many empty positions will be filled, at what speed.

But it won’t happen overnight.

Glew notes “it will take multiple years and a committment by EPD and the city to recover from our staffing deficiencies.”

For more information about becoming an Evanston police officer is available online. The starting salary range is $69,689 to $102,726.

Jeff Hirsh joined the Evanston Now reporting team in 2020 after a 40-year award-winning career as a broadcast journalist in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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