Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Evanston Police Department gives update on crime trends, community relations to City Council

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Photo by Jorge Melendez
Evanston Police Department. Members of EPD updated City Council on the state of the department Tuesday, nearly a year after the new police chief’s swearing-in.

Evanston Police Department members discussed crime trends, community relations and a plan to curb re-offenses at a City Council meeting Tuesday.  

EPD Chief of Police Schenita Stewart said there has been a slight downward trend in crimes against persons over the past nine months. The department’s presentation also cited a decrease in motor vehicle thefts, from an average of about 26 thefts from last November to March to an average of 11 from April through August. 

Stewart noted that EPD has taken 73 firearms at gun buyback events.

“It has been a challenging year yet a productive and accomplished one,” Stewart told councilmembers.

The EPD update came as the department continues to grapple with a personnel shortage. The department faced an unusually high number of resignations and multiple chief turnovers in 2021. In October 2022, Stewart was sworn in as the city’s first permanent woman chief of police following a monthslong candidate recruitment process. 

City Council voted in January to boost police pay with a gross wage increase of 26% over the next four years, which Cmdr. Ryan Glew said would make contracts more competitive for retention and lateral hires. Stewart told the council that between November and August, there has been a 5% increase in sworn-in staff.

“This issue is not unique to the department,” Stewart said. “I’m sure most of you are aware that this (a police shortage) has been happening nationwide.”

Almost a year after EPD launched a survey measuring public trust, department members told City Council about recent community relations programming. Stewart said the department has developed a community relations unit and hosted its first Spanish-speaking Community Police Academy.

Tosha Wilson, an EPD sergeant, told the council it’s important for officers and departments to “self reflect” and identify ways to improve community trust through restorative practices. 

At Tuesday’s meeting, Wilson also introduced a new project aimed at giving people resources so they are less likely to re-offend. 

“The focus is simple: to keep Evanston residents and people who are not from Evanston from returning to any police facility, while encouraging other communities to also be present for their citizens with resources and care in order,” she said. 

The project was launched by Wilson and six other female EPD officers who have been part of the New Blue Leadership Fellowship, operated by the nonprofit police reform organization. 

The program has developed a Community All-In Recidivism Project Card, or “CAIR Card.” Officers will use the card to ask those who have been detained questions about what resources they may need from local organizations to address issues in their lives, including food insecurity or substance abuse. The cohort said they aim to launch a pilot program by early 2024. 

In a community survey of over 200 Evanston residents, average support of the CAIR Card ranged from 65% in the 9th Ward to 91% in the 3rd Ward, according to the presentation. 

EPD’s presentation was temporarily halted Tuesday night when protesters who were part of a march organized by the Northwestern Accountability Alliance walked into the chamber. Holding signs reading “Respect Our Community” and “Fund Our Needs Not Ryan’s Ego,” they advocated against Northwestern University’s request to rezone the new Ryan Field stadium to allow additional events, including public-facing concerts. 

“This is what democracy looks like,” protesters chanted. Tuesday’s march drew groups such as the Community Alliance for Better Government, Northwestern University Graduate Workers and Fossil Free Northwestern.

Near the end of the meeting, Ald. Devon Reid (8th) urged protesters to be “strategic” in how they make their voices heard. 

“I encourage folks to be more thoughtful about the way that they protest and try to urge this body to do what folks believe is right,” Reid said. “It is not the place of an elected official to tell folks how to protest, but I do think there are certainly more effective ways than what happened today, which really was just more disruptive than anything else.”

Email: [email protected] 

Twitter: @JorjaSiemons 

Links

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

Evanston Police Department reassigns Community Policing Unit members due to staff shortages

Evanston Police Department had an increased level of resignations in 2021. Here’s what the future looks like

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