Equity and Empowerment Commission discusses police chief selection, work plan draft


Brian Meng/Daily Senior Staffer

Mario Velo speaks at an Equity and Empowerment Commission meeting. Velo said he would volunteer to be on a panel assisting with the selection of Evanston’s new police chief.

Christopher Vazquez, Video Editor

Evanston’s Equity and Empowerment Commission on Thursday put forward recommendations for how its members can take on a greater role in the police chief selection process.

Following Evanston Police Chief Richard Eddington’s announcement months ago that he will retire at the end of this year, Evanston has been gearing up to hire a new chief of police.

Commission members agreed Thursday to recommend that they seat a member on one of the three panels that will assist with the selection process. This recommendation will reach city manager Wally Bobkiewicz.

The panels, which are set to include a community panel, a staff panel and a so-called “peers panel,” consisting of other police officers, will interview candidates for the position.

Commission chair Jane Grover said the three panels will then convene together to put forward a top candidate. During the meeting, the commission also agreed to recommend one question for each panel to ask. Grover said the questions would be tailored to each individually while still focusing on equity.

“The community panel might ask, ‘how will you ensure that something is represented in how you do community policing?’” Grover said. “The staff panel might ask a question about ‘how will you ensure that you create a diverse pipeline for hiring?’ The peers panel might ask something different… It would be really great if equity were somehow in the room with each of these interviews.”

Commission member Mario Vela volunteered to serve on one of the three should Bobkiewicz accept the recommendation. Vela, who is also the director of employer relations for Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, told The Daily he thinks his background in “diversity recruiting and also in career services” would lend itself well to the team.

Patricia Efiom, Evanston’s equity and empowerment coordinator, said that at the request of Mayor Steve Hagerty, the commission will also collect resources on Evanston’s past equity work into a packet to be sent to police chief candidates. The purpose of the packet is to inform them of these efforts.

The commission also discussed changes to a draft of the Equitable Evanston work plan, which Efiom described as a guide for how the city can promote equity.

“We are building a framework through which all of our city departments will make decisions so that we ensure equity is embedded in all of our processes,” Efiom told The Daily.

The plan’s current draft contains seven strategies for equity promotion. The strategies include defining key concepts, developing community engagement policies and recommending equity goals to City Council.

Commission member Timothy Eberhart volunteered to serve on the committee to help define those key concepts. He suggested adding a list of identities which community members may hold to the plan, and outlining various forms of inequities that people across marginalized communities may face.

In response, commision member Kathy Lyons recommended adding an additional statement to the draft to address any marginalized identities they may forget to list.

“You know it’s a draft, but we’re trying to get those people who have been subject to prejudice, to bigotry and discrimination and systemic inequities,” Lyons said, “but we don’t want to leave someone out unintentionally because I’m not educated about that.”

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