Citizen Police Review Commission recommends de-escalation training, clear body camera policy to EPD


William Tong/The Daily Northwestern

Left to right: Sgt. Charlotte Hart, Cmdr. Ryan Glew and Deputy City Manager Dave Stoneback. After a complaint against EPD officers, Evanston’s Citizen Police Review Commission suggested de-escalation training and clearer body camera footage guidelines.

William Tong, Assistant City Editor

The Citizen Police Review Commission voted to recommend de-escalation training and clearer body camera footage guidelines to the Evanston Police Department Wednesday. 

These suggestions were spurred by a police complaint filed regarding a May 2022 argument between a civilian and a CTA employee, which an officer mediated and the Commission discussed in December. The commission agreed officers did not violate department policy, but suggested general reforms to increase trust between police and civilians. 

After having drafted correspondence since December, the Commission approved the reform proposal Wednesday.

Specifically, the commission suggested EPD create a clear, standalone de-escalation policy incorporating training requirements. It also urged the department to clearly state its position on whether officers are allowed to review their own body camera footage during the complaint investigation process.

The Commission can either send investigations back to the EPD’s Office of Professional Standards or forward them to the chief of police, who ultimately makes disciplinary decisions contingent on Evanston Human Services Committee approval.

During the meeting, commissioners also voted to send a complaint investigation about a vehicle accident back to OPS for a second time because of disagreement with the OPS conclusions. 

The complaint alleged that after an off-duty officer crashed their car into a juvenile riding a bike in October 2021, several officers responded, with one saying, “well, this is why we don’t bike on Ridge right?” Interviewed officers denied the allegations. Commissioners examined the case at the November meeting, sending it back to the OPS.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the OPS again recommended the Commission approve its findings that officers did not violate department policy. Commissioners pushed back. After reviewing body camera footage from on-duty officers at the scene during the prior meeting, the Commission agreed one of the involved officers asked the alleged question.

“They just ping ponged it back to us without looking at what we said,” Commissioner Juneitha Shambee said. “You’re victimizing the victim.”

OPS Cmdr. Ryan Glew said the office did not see disrespect in the officers’ conduct. Glew acknowledged one officer asked the question but said the officer directed it to another EPD officer, not the juvenile. 

Commissioners said regardless of whom the officer directed the question at, the officer’s actions violated a police department rule that prohibits “any action or conduct, on or off duty, which impedes the department’s efforts to achieve its goals, mission, or values.”

“We spend a lot of money training (police) not to make these common mistakes, not to contribute to the gap in trust,” Commissioner Samuel Jones said.

Before sending the complaint back to the OPS for a third time, commissioners debated whether another review would yield different results. Glew said he would try to assign a different officer to the review, but could not guarantee that the OPS wouldn’t return the same findings. 

Wednesday’s meeting raised questions about the Commission’s overall role and power.  

“Is there something wrong with the review process?” Commissioner Cindy Reed asked. “Clearly, we did hear ‘Don’t bike on Ridge’ on video.” 

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