City, NU law enforcement offer ‘mutual aid’

Nathalie Tadena

A recent controversy over illegal immigration has brought increased attention to the differences between University Police and the Evanston Police Department and how the two agencies work together.

Though Northwestern is contained within a 240-acre campus, UP’s duties often extend beyond campus borders.

UP and EPD maintain a collaborative relationship to maximize both units’ resources, officials from both departments said.

“It’s always been a very positive relationship,” UP Assistant Chief Dan McAleer said. “There’s good cooperation from the street level on up to the command level with EPD. We consider them partners and they consider us partners.”

In 2001, the Evanston City Council passed a cooperative agreement concerning how UP and EPD will work together.

“It was an important agreement between the Evanston police and University Police to formalize a lot of what they were already doing,” said Eugene Sunshine, NU’s senior vice president for business and finance.

The agreement originally did not extend UP authority to patrol in the 5th Ward, an area close to the northern part of NU’s campus and represented on the council by Ald. Delores Holmes (5th). But the agreement was later altered, said Sunshine, who was involved in fostering the process.

Under the mutual agreement, UP is authorized to patrol off-campus city streets where students live and frequent at night. They can also take police action within a designated zone close to campus, McAleer said. UP’s designated zone is bordered by Lake Street, Ridge Avenue and Green Bay Road. UP can also take police action in other parts of the city at EPD’s specific request.

Controversy arose on NU’s campus in late April after UP arrested an illegal immigrant on suspicion of drunk driving and referred him to federal immigration authorities.

On May 6, after meeting with student leaders, UP changed its policy to match EPD’s and to better relate to a council resolution passed last year. The new policy holds that the department “will initiate notification to (the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement) only in cases involving arrests for a felony and/or human trafficking,” UP Police Chief Bruce Lewis wrote in a statement.

McAleer and EPD Cmdr. Tom Guenther said they could not comment on the other agency’s policies, but both said the two departments work well together.

Although UP responds to calls on campus, EPD is the primary police agency for students who live off campus, they said.

“We’re certainly glad to have the flexibility to be able to do things to help the overall community and hopefully make Evanston residents feel safer,” McAleer said.

Both departments work together on issues such as a joint burglary task force off campus, and UP is sometimes asked to assist EPD with automobile or apartment burglaries during NU’s student break periods, McAleer said.

Both departments also patrol city streets close to campus Friday and Saturday evenings during Fall and Spring Quarters to address “quality of life issues,” such as noise violations, parties and littering. The departments also provide translators and evidence technicians for each other, if needed.

“The cooperation between the two agencies is a good law enforcement organization,” Guenther said. “There is mutual aid when we get overwhelmed or they get overwhelmed; we work very well together.”

In turn, Guenther said EPD helps manage large gatherings on campus such as graduation and special dignitary events.

The organization of the two departments is a “model” for other college towns, Sunshine said.

The Department of Security Services at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn., only “occasionally” works with the town’s police department, said Sharon Wadekamper, a Carleton security shift supervisor. Like UP, Carleton’s Security Services is responsible for all emergency calls made on campus. However, security officers are not sworn state peace officers.

The town’s police officers usually only patrol around campus if they are asked by the college security services, Wadekamper said.

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