Citizen Police Review Commission discusses over-policing of communities of color, elects new co-chairs


Daily file photo by Colin Boyle

The Citizen Police Review Commission elected new co-chairs and discussed increasing its knowledge on police policies Wednesday.

Astry Rodriguez, Senior Staffer

The Citizen Police Review Commission discussed an incident regarding over-aggressive police action Wednesday.

Deputy City Manager Dave Stoneback said the Evanston Police Department is working on improving its de-escalation training procedure. 

Commissioner Samuel Jones said he recently sent an email to the other commission members about an incident of bad policing he witnessed on Howard Street. A police officer stopped a Black man for distracted driving, who then had an encounter with “armies” of officers, Jones said. 

“I am not blaming EPD, I’m saying the optics raise serious questions,” Jones said. “It was shocking to see that happen.”

Jones said he thinks the commissioners should receive proper training on police operation procedures to determine if officers’ actions are consistent with the policy in situations like this. 

Stoneback said EPD will follow up on the incident and find out where else the officers were patrolling to see if the stop was targeted at a predominantly Black area. 

Jones said he cannot do his job without bringing up concerns about racism. 

“Do you think the African American community cares about the sensibilities of people who are not bothered, who are not affected by the level of violence and ostracism and incarceration?” Jones said.

He added that he’d like to see the data on the kind of policing common around Howard Street. 

Commissioner Nyika Strickland said based on what the commission has seen in the past in terms of stops in the area, people’s race is a clear indicator of how they are treated by police.

“There are disparate treatments based on who it is that is being stopped,” Strickland said. 

When discussing the incident, however, Commissioner Blanca Lule said Jones’ email could be a violation of the Open Meetings Act, which requires commissioners to discuss citizen comments in meetings, rather than electronically.

Jones said he disagreed. He said the commission guidelines don’t specify where the commission is meant to receive citizen complaints, and he still counts as a citizen.

While he trusts EPD leadership, Jones said he does not understand why over-policing and aggression with police actions occur in predominantly Black and Latine communities like Howard. 

In response to Jones, Stoneback said the commission must examine police investigations based on specific guidelines, as outlined in the City Code, rather than looking at informal complaints.

“We only should be making a determination on an internal investigation prior to (making a) final decision on discipline,” Stoneback said.

He said the commission should not direct how the police respond to incidents and how to police in general. He said the commission reviews internal investigations and presents recommendations for the police chief to make the final decision. 

Commissioner Cindy Reed said the commission’s City Code policy 2-14-5(A) — which states the commission must determine if an investigation is “complete, thorough, objective and fair” based on specific guidelines — prioritizes police internal investigation reports over citizen statements.  

Jones said the commission should have a say in its standards for making recommendations to police and citizens.

“We commissioners have to have some input as to the things we want to be trained on,” Jones said. “We shouldn’t just have that imposed on us.”

The commission also elected Jones and Commissioner Kate Moss as co-chairs to succeed Strickland, whose term as chair will expire in June.

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @Astry_tpwk 

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