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Summer time in Evanston is one of the best times of the year.  The lakefront, activities in our parks and special events help make Evanston a great place in the summertime.  However, the fun that summer brings can sometimes be overshadowed by other incidents.  The City of Evanston continues to focus on how best to protect our residents and engage those young people who, during the summer and year-around, need our assistance to help move their lives forward in positive directions.  I would like to share with you some of our current efforts:

Increased Youth Engagement: This week, the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program began for 2013.  This year the program is providing 260 jobs for youth in our community.  This is a 63% increase over 2012.  Youth are working for the City and other agencies and businesses during a 9 week program.  Still, 390 wonderful young people applied for jobs and could not be hired.  Our kids want to work and we need to help them.

Kudos to Evanston Township High School, they recently hired a new job and career coach to help students make career decisions for options that may not include college.  It is not just about working, the Mayor’s Super Summer Program is also providing a variety of activities at libraries, beaches, parks and recreation facilities throughout the city for youth to be engaged throughout the day all week long in activities.

Increased Police Presence:  This spring, the Evanston Police Department added a second school resource officer at Evanston Township High School to handle issues on campus more quickly.  The Department implemented its annual Summer Plan two weeks ahead of schedule in mid-May which assigned seven additional police officers on the street during peak periods.  In addition, Police Chief Richard Eddington has announced this week a reorganization of the Department to expand its existing Problem Solving Team program into a Community Strategies Division. 

This division consisting of a Commander, Sergeant and eight police officers will focus entirely on relationships with the community.  The Division will work to enhance existing and develop new relationships with neighborhoods throughout Evanston to help identify and bring to justice those individuals causing harm in our community.  EPD has also implemented a “stop and frisk” policy to help identify individuals carrying unlawful weapons and other contraband in our neighborhoods.  

Increased Neighborhood Safety Measures:  The City is working with ETHS to further increase safety around the school with the addition of lighting both on the grounds and surrounding streets of the school.  Additional surveillance cameras are in place and more will be installed.  In addition to these improvements, additional surveillance cameras will be added to all community centers (Fleetwood Jourdain, Levy, Crown, Chandler-Newberger) to assist the Police in helping keep the community safe.  

While I commend the outstanding work that the City and ETHS have done in all of these areas, there is still more we as a community need to do to ensure that all Evanston youth have options for their future.  Job training and workforce development remain a key priority for me.  More needs to be done to engage the resources of Oakton Community College in these efforts.  I recently tried riding a bus to Oakton’s Des Plaines campus from Evanston to understand what an Evanston youth must go through to attend morning classes.  It took me one hour and forty two minutes to travel to Oakton by bus.  I started at Brummel and Custer.  If I had missed the bus as a student, there is no alternative to get to Oakton for morning classes.  I look forward to working with Oakton to reach Evanston youth who need critical educational and vocational training that the college provides.  Evanston comprises 16% of Oakton’s district and 8% of their student body.

A safe and engaging Evanston for all our youth is my priority and I hope you will make it your priority.  Help keep the youth in your life engaged in productive activities year around be they educational, vocational or recreational.  And if you see something wrong or know of circumstances about crime in our community, please come forward to the Police with information.

Lets enjoy this summer together as one community.

Elizabeth Tisdahl