Cook County provides lighting for Northwestern nighttime football games

Paige Leskin, City Editor

The Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management provided additional lighting during Northwestern football night games this season to help prevent any accidents between cars and pedestrians leaving the game.

Evanston police asked for the portable light units along Central Street after officials requested the need for additional resources at Ryan Field, Evanston police Cmdr. Jay Parrott said.

“It really does assist with us doing our job and ensuring safety to the public,” Parrott said. “We’ve been lucky, but we’ve noticed that just in the years that we’ve been doing these type of operations, when it goes into the dark hours, there’s a higher risk and the lighting is not as good.”

The light units stood on Central Street during the Wildcats’ game Saturday against the University of Michigan, as well as during the Homecoming game against University of Nebraska-Lincoln on Oct. 18.

Although Evanston police and the fire department, as well as NU police, all have their own lighting units, officials asked for two more units after some “close calls” among cars, bicyclists and pedestrians, Parrott said.

The additional lights were set up to cover more of the area around the football stadium, University Police Deputy Chief Daniel McAleer said.

“It’s a preventative measure to ensure that folks going from the game, especially at night as darkness sets, that they can see the sidewalk surface and street as they’re crossing,” he said. “It helps with vehicles seeing pedestrians as well.”

The county’s Department of Homeland Security is regularly available to any county municipality requesting services, said Natalia Derevyanny, the department’s spokeswoman. The department can provide assistance on a regular basis, she said.

When Evanston called on the department for the light fixtures, staff felt it was “vital” to provide them with the units, she said.

“This is a very serious concern,” Derevyanny said. “It’s a public safety issue, and we’re happy to help any of our municipalities.”

This was the first year that officials turned to Cook County for the lighting fixtures, Parrott said. He said the partnership worked out well, with the units providing more safety alongside the officers from EPD and UP manning the streets around Ryan Field and inside the stadium.

Parrott said that as long as the resources are available to the EPD, officials will continue to use them for future football seasons.

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