The Jan. 12 edition of The Daily Northwestern stated that Alderperson Jane Grover said she thinks Evanston police officers have a relatively good relationship with the community, adding that unlike in Ferguson, Mo., the racial composition of the department roughly matches that of the City. 

She is quoted as saying, “The Evanston police really do look like the community.  We’re not Ferguson. That’s for sure.”

At the Jan. 12 City Council meeting, Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl spoke about the “role of law enforcement” in Evanston (see Jan. 15 RoundTable).  She said: “Today’s Evanston Police Department is one that is in touch with our community. First, the makeup of the department reflects the diversity of our community.” 

Both the Alderperson’s and the Mayor’s comments made me think of the phrase “drive-by diversity,” a phrase I am told was coined by Evanston resident Lloyd Shepard.  The phrase captures the tendency to define interracial relationships by simply being able to observe (count) the variety of ethnic and racial groups.  Drive-by diversity does not allow one to really know what the various groups are experiencing. 

The Mayor goes on to say: “…the (Evanston Police) department is sensitive to all aspects of our community.  The EPD’s Problem Solving Team works in our neighborhoods with residents to solve community problems, where law enforcement is only one part of the solution…Under the direction of Police Chief Richard Eddington, our police officers understand our community …” 

I challenge these statements.  I have complained about the bullying attitude of one member of the Problem Solving Team to no avail.  This officer took the side of one of the parties involved in a neighborhood dispute rather than trying to resolve the matter by neutrally including all parties. 

The officer took the side of an Evanston business owner.  The other parties involved were (are) retirees, senior citizens, foreigners, college students and mentally disabled individuals.  One would hope that the police chief, the Evanston Human Services Committee, the City Manager, the Mayor and City Council would not turn a blind eye to the actions of police officers who bully, threaten, intimidate and are biased. 

Evanston was named one of the Most Livable Cities in the U.S. According to the VCPost, the parameters for this classification were safety and security, quality of education, and economy. Evanston “…has a well-educated population…Secondary school students of Evanston also had above average performance for 2013.  Another educational point, Northwestern University, a top American university, is based in this City.”

Since there are significant numbers of Evanston residents who lack a college education, are unable to earn big salaries, and live in neighborhoods with significant crime, one must ask: Evanston is the most livable for whom?