Mayor: The problem of violence in Evanston is everyone’s problem

Bailey Williams, Assistant Summer Editor

Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl called on residents Monday to join city officials in their fight against gun violence.

“Evanston should be a safe place to live, raise a family and do business for everyone,” Tisdahl wrote in Monday’s message. “However, not every Evanston resident feels safe.”

Tisdahl highlighted the efforts of various city departments, including the Evanston Police Department and the Youth and Young Adult Division, in addressing the recent uptick in gun violence.

EPD has deployed additional resources across the city in response to summer gun activity. EPD Cmdr. Jay Parrott said the additional resources are more refined and directed toward specific neighborhoods rather than just investigating recent shootings. Some units have refocused their attention on problematic areas.

In addition to deploying additional resources, EPD created a gun suppression task force. The EPD’s gun suppression task force focuses on holding people accountable for carrying illegal firearms on streets, Parrott said. Most people recently arrested by the task force were convicted felons, he said. Police have arrested at least five individuals in connection with gun possession in the last two weeks, Tisdahl said.

“We will continue this stepped up presence,” Parrott said. “Evanston needs to be a safe place for everybody.”

Additionally, the EPD will partner with Northeastern Illinois Regional Crime Laboratory to process evidence faster, Parrott said.

The EPD will also participate in a partnership with the University of Chicago’s Crime Lab to track how firearms end up in Evanston, Parrott said.

In her message, Tisdahl also said the recent shootings were not random acts of violence, but “related to ongoing disputes between a small number of individuals.”

Both Tisdahl and Parrott pointed to citizens’ efforts toward making the city safer.

“The challenge is not identifying the suspects, but rather having residents come forward to provide information that leads to the arrest and conviction of these individuals,” Tisdahl wrote.

Parrott said when people are aware of criminal activity and do not give the information to the police, it puts a roadblock in the police’s progress. He said both police and citizen effort is needed to hold criminals accountable.

Tisdahl ultimately called for residents to join her in taking action by reporting known information to the EPD and participating in one of the National Night Out events taking place August 5. The events promote crime prevention and aim to show criminals that the community is responding to crime.

“Keeping Evanston safe is everyone’s business,” Tisdahl wrote.

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