Mayoral candidate Sebastian Nalls talks Police Reform

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Daily file photo by Evan Robinson-Johnson

Mayoral candidate and 20-year-old Evanston Township High School graduate Sebastian Nalls. Nalls spoke with the Daily about his public safety platform.

Christina Van Waasbergen, Reporter

Evanston mayoral candidate Sebastian Nalls said his plan to implement police reform within his first 90 days in office sets his public safety platform apart from those of his opponents.

Nalls, a 20-year-old Purdue University student and Evanston Township High School graduate, spoke with The Daily about his plans for policing.

“I, myself, as a Black man in Evanston, have been racially profiled by police here,” Nalls said. “We are not exempt from the national issues that take place when it comes to policing.”

As mayor, Nalls wants to create a Police Reform Committee to oversee police reform efforts. He would also require the Evanston Police Department to conduct a review of its police officers.

Within the review, officers would be independently interviewed by a panel consisting of the police chief, the mayor or the head of the Police Reform Committee, and an independent contractor specializing in bias training. Officers would also be given an implicit bias test by an independent contractor.

Based on these interviews and tests, officers who have above-average biases that could affect their interactions with community members would have the option to participate in bias training or leave the department. Officers who have extreme biases would be removed from the department. In addition, Nalls would have the police department update its policies to reflect the goal of community policing.

Nalls also plans to emulate the Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets public safety model first implemented in Eugene, Oregon. Under this system, two-person teams of medics and mental crisis workers would replace police in responding to calls about situations like substance abuse and suicide threats.

Additionally, Nalls said he plans to address the root causes of crime by reallocating funding to youth programs, community development and health and human services.

Nalls also addressed Northwestern University Police’s relationship with EPD, saying he would work with Northwestern’s administration to make sure UP is implementing the same reforms as EPD.

“You shouldn’t be treated differently when it comes to a Northwestern police officer than you would from an Evanston police officer,” Nalls said.

To increase police transparency, Nalls said he would return all Freedom of Information Act responsibilities to the city clerk. In 2019, City Council voted to designate requests for police and law department records under the jurisdiction of those respective departments, a system Nalls said has inherent ethical issues.

Although Evanston has a Citizen Police Review Commission, Nalls said Illinois’ laws limit its power. He said he would work with state and county officials to accomplish police reform on the state level.

Nalls emphasized the importance of working on police reform immediately, saying “an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure.”

“We shouldn’t wait until something like Kenosha or something like Ferguson happens in Evanston to actually take action,” he said. “We should be preemptive and solve the problems when it comes to policing here in Evanston now so that we can provide better services for Evanston residents in the future.”

Evanston’s municipal primary elections will be held Feb. 23. If no candidate wins a majority of votes, the top two vote-getters will advance to the general election on April 6.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @cvanwaasbergen

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