Study: Evanston police stand out for ‘upfront’ use of stop and frisk

Patrick Svitek, Summer Editor

A new report by the Better Government Association says the Evanston Police Department’s use of stop and frisk is one of the most transparent in the Chicago area.

The Chicago-based watchdog’s study, published Tuesday, found that EPD has publicized the controversial tactic more than at least 10 other police departments in Chicago suburbs ranging from Tinley Park to Waukegan.

“While the Evanston Police Department is telling residents upfront about using stop-and-frisk, other local police forces are less direct with constituents,” the BGA’s Katie Drews wrote in the report.

Under Illinois law, the policing method allows officers to “stop any person in a public place for a reasonable period of time” when they suspect the person has committed, is committing or is about to commit a crime.

Stop and frisk has come under a new level of scrutiny after a federal judge ruled earlier this month that it violated the constitutional rights of minorities in New York City. Critics say it unfairly targets black and Hispanic men, while city and law enforcement leaders hail it as a necessary crime-fighting tool.

“We’ve had no complaints and this is Evanston, home of civil liberties,” Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl told the BGA. “I am a card-carrying member of the ACLU, but we needed to do this and we need to keep our children safe.”

(More officers, more outreach: Evanston police lay out summer strategy)

At a 5th Ward meeting in May, EPD Chief Richard Eddington announced his officers would be stepping up stop-and-frisk after a rash of gunplay near the Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center, 1655 Foster St.

“This level of violence and this use of guns is now out of control,” Eddington said at the meeting.

Since then, EPD has attributed multiple arrests to stop and frisk, including that of a 16-year-old boy earlier this summer. Police said the teen had a loaded .22-caliber handgun when they stopped him in west Evanston.

— Patrick Svitek