Evanston Police Department launches survey to measure public trust, local neighborhood concerns


Daily file photo by Jorge Melendez

The Evanston Police Department. EPD launched a new survey to measure residents’ trust in law enforcement and collect specific concerns for the police to address.

Saul Pink, Assistant City Editor

Evanston Police Department launched a new public trust survey this month to measure resident attitudes about EPD and survey the specific concerns of each neighborhood. 

The survey will ask residents about how safe residents feel in their neighborhoods and ask constituents what their priorities are for police. Evanston partnered with Zencity, a company that helps local governments around the country understand community opinions. 

The city plans to share the survey through ads on various social media platforms, such as Facebook, to reach residents officials don’t ordinarily hear from. 

“We want meaningful input from residents,” EPD administrative coordinator Janella Hardin said. “People may not feel comfortable filing reports or coming to city council meetings to public comment, but we want to give their voices meaningful input so that we can actually make changes for them.”

The survey contains four main questions. Respondents will rate how safe they feel in their neighborhoods from one to 10, answer whether police in their neighborhood “treat local residents with respect,” note if they think police take into account residents’ concerns and write one neighborhood problem they would like the police to deal with. Respondents must also enter their demographic information.

According to Cmdr. Ryan Glew, the survey will help new city staff transition into their new roles. The city announced Friday that Schenita Stewart, deputy chief of police for East Dundee Police Department, will head the department starting Oct. 10. Prior to Stewart’s appointment, EPD saw three police chiefs since June 2021 alongside a mass exodus of officers. 

“It’s going to give the new leadership — the new city manager, the new chief of police — information so that they can best determine a vision and a path for the department,” Glew said. 

Evanston has worked with Zencity since 2020 on various projects gathering feedback from residents, according to a news release about the survey. City Manager Luke Stowe started Evanston’s partnership with the company during his time as Chief Information Officer.

The city will receive quarterly reports from Zencity on the survey results, Hardin said. Zencity processes the results and creates visuals so police departments can easily see what metrics are changing. 

Michael Simon, vice president of strategic partnerships at Zencity, said the company’s law enforcement clients have a unique interest in measuring public trust. City Council approved a settlement of $120,000 with resident Kevin Logan this month, who sued former Chief of Police Demetrious Cook and the city after Cook posted mugshots of more than 30 of the department’s known suspects to his public Snapchat story.

“Law enforcement agencies, in many ways, have a more direct link to public confidence and trust than other local government agencies,” Simon said. “It is a ‘must-have’ to successfully do their jobs, many parts of which depend on legitimacy with the public.” 

Zencity also tracks what Evanston residents talk about on social media to give city officials an idea of what issues are on residents’ mind.

EPD might adjust the survey for specific neighborhoods, Hardin said. According to Hardin, EPD can deploy alternative survey models with follow-up questions to help get to the root of specific issues in specific areas in the future. 

For now, the survey aims to help the understaffed police department deploy its resources most effectively. 

“With a staffing crisis, a department that’s down 27 sworn members and trying to serve a community of diverse needs when it comes to policing, the information that we’re going to get from the survey is crucial,” Glew said.

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @saullpink

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