Evanston Police Department revives mentorship program after nearly 30 years


Jack Lido/The Daily Northwestern

Officer Enjoli Daley talks during the information session for the new Police Explorer Program. After 30 years of inactivity in Evanston, the program will prepare youth for careers in law enforcement.

Christopher Vazquez, Reporter

Two generations before 15-year-old Kyla Guzman walked into the Evanston Fire Department Headquarters on Thursday evening, her grandfather worked as a police officer in Chicago, she said. Now, Kyla Guzman says she is considering a career in law enforcement herself.

Her next step in the process is the Police Explorer Program, which the city will bring back in January after 30 years of inactivity. The Evanston Police Department hosted an informational meeting at EFD headquarters on Thursday to discuss the program, which is commissioned through the Boy Scouts of America and prepares youth for careers in law enforcement.

Jay Parrott, deputy chief of police, said the Explorer program aims to teach participants about the changing nature of policing.

“Law enforcement has changed dramatically in the last 30 years, even in the last five years,” Parrot said. “Those types of training that officers get and the exposures we get to the various situations that have occured, that’s something that’s going to be built into the program.”

Kyla Guzman said she believes the program can help her understand the realities of law enforcement. She added she hoped to benefit from a “behind-the-scenes” look at police work.

Officer Enjoli Daley said the program could also benefit youth who decide to pursue fields outside of police work. She said she hopes to help them succeed and find confidence.

“For me, I think there is a genuine desire to see our youth thrive,” Daley said. “If we can be a part of that process, awesome. Especially when it comes to those who go into law enforcement, these kids might be our backup one day, so having that opportunity to have that first-hand experience with them is pretty cool.”

In addition to helping aspiring police officers achieve their goals, attendants at the meeting said they believe the program can help improve relations between police and local residents.

Both Kyla Guzman and her father, Gabriel Guzman, said the Explorer program can help prevent divisions between the two groups. Gabriel Guzman said he hoped the program would improve relations between the Evanston community and police by fostering more respect for law enforcement.

“There’s kind of a disconnect between the community and law enforcement as of late,” Gabriel Guzman said. “It’d be nice to (mend) that relationship to help kids in this program move forward.”

Daley acknowledged the Explorer program in Evanston will have to adjust after nearly 30 years of inactivity. Officers are working to make the program more appealing to youth today, she said.

Still, Daley said she is optimistic for the program’s future.

“After 30 years, it’ll be interesting,” she said. “I expect to see it grow and thrive. I think it’s needed in Evanston. I think the youth want something like this, and I think we’ll see where it goes.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @ChrisVazquez812