Citizen Police Review Commission dismisses allegations of child endangerment, use of force; evaluates juvenile rights


Daily file photo by Colin Boyle

Evanston police Cmdr. Ryan Glew. At a Citizen Police Review Commission meeting Wednesday, Glew relayed allegations against EPD officers regarding child endangerment, use of force and juvenile rights.

Elena Hubert, Assistant City Editor

Content warning: This story contains mentions of alleged police misconduct.

The Citizen Police Review Commission reviewed two investigations of complaints against Evanston Police Department officers relating to child endangerment and use of force at a Wednesday meeting.

The commission unanimously voted to dismiss allegations of misconduct in both cases. It found the officer’s actions in the first investigation were appropriate and recommended internal policy changes based on the second, regarding the department’s standards for parental presence while questioning a juvenile.

One of the cases discussed use of force complaints against two EPD officers who physically separated and handcuffed two juveniles during an altercation on Foster Street on July 20, 2021, according to the department’s summary of facts. 

One of the juveniles’ parents filed a complaint the next day, alleging an officer dragged and kicked their child while trying to break up the fight. The parent also alleged a patrol sergeant questioned their child without a guardian present.

During the meeting, Cmdr. Ryan Glew said the commission found one of the officers did not activate their body-worn camera until after the incident occurred. 

“It was an on-view large disturbance, and sometimes activating body-worn camera footage and taking the immediate necessary actions can’t be done at the same time,” Glew said.

At the station that day, a patrol sergeant initiated a use of force investigation without the juvenile’s guardian present, according to the summary of facts. Commission Chair Nyika Strickland said when reviewing the video footage, she noted both the juvenile and a juvenile detective present at the station expressed that a parent should have been present during questioning.

Commission members watched about 20 minutes of body cam footage related to the juvenile’s arrest and questioning. Upon review of the case, the deputy chief said the sergeant’s decision to continue questioning without a parent present was a “gray area,” according to Glew, but not a rules violation. However, the commission recommended changes to the department’s code be made to mandate parental presence during questioning of juveniles. EPD will be reviewing related policies, Glew said.

“Being engaged in a number of these fights over at the high school with the kids, I know it’s tough … to try and pull them apart,” commission member Cindy Reed said. “But when it comes down to questioning, I certainly feel that an adult or a social worker, someone should be present there, hopefully a parent in the future.”

The other investigation discussion centered a driver who alleged an officer physically touched his children while conducting a traffic stop in July 2021. The driver also alleged the officer entered his vehicle to perform the safety inspection without his consent.

According to an incident statement, the officer stopped the driver for a traffic violation, then took the opportunity to inspect child safety restraint violations. At the time of the incident, the officer issued the driver two traffic citations and gave him information about securing child safety seats.

Commissioner Reed and commission member Shahna Richman questioned Glew — who serves as commander for EPD’s Office of Professional Standards — as to why the officer allowed the driver to leave the scene with children in improperly secured seats. 

Glew responded that because the driver did not commit an arrestable offense, the officer could not stop him from leaving.

“We do have limitations on how much we can stop somebody from driving and continuing on even … after they’ve been cited, continuing to commit a violation,” Glew said.

EPD’s Office of Professional Standards conducted an investigation into the incident, according to Glew, integrating reports, interviews with both the complainant and accused officer and body cam footage. Based on the investigation, in February EPD’s traffic sergeant and deputy chief found the accusations, including those involving physical touch, were not sustained and declined to take further action against the officer.

After reviewing about 13 minutes of the officer’s body cam footage of the incident, the five members present of the nine-member commission voted to find the investigation complete, thorough, objective and fair.

Though commission members agreed further safety guidelines would not have impacted the case, the commission also recommended the EPD implement safety restraint training for officers.

The Commission’s next meeting will be June 1.

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Twitter: @elenahubert25

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