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Dr. Gilo Kwesi Logan, who spent a year engaging the Evanston Police Department in diversity and inclusion training, presented his findings to the Human Services Committee on Sept. 7. The purpose of the training, said Police Chief Richard Eddington, was “to enhance the EPD’s ability to interact in a positive manner with the community.”
The diversity and inclusion training, Dr. Logan said, was tailored to the Evanston community, with its ethnic, economic, and racial history and diversity.
One of the goals of the training was to “develop awareness of personal biases and potential lack of cultural sensitivity that have the potential to contribute to post-interaction points of conflict between the police department and the African American community and to explore the potential impact of these on community policing,” Dr. Logan said.
Other goals included increasing cultural awareness, knowledge and bolstering skills that would help strengthen partnerships with the community and providing police department personnel with “realistic options to deal with concerns expressed by the community,” Dr. Logan’s report said.
To assess the needs of the City of Evanston, the Evanston Police Department, and the Evanston community, and inform them of the program, Dr. Logan met with the Mayor, members of the City Council collectively and individually, and with the Police Chief and police department command staff and union representatives. He also conducted one public town hall meeting and several smaller, private meetings.
In his presentation to the Human Services Committee, Dr. Logan said examples of primary workshop topics were “identity,” “categorization,” and “implicit bias.” These are all part of human nature, he said. “All humans are biased in some way.”
“We explored the identity of the Evanston Police Department and the Evanston community and how those interface with one another: ‘How does the Evanston Police Department categorize information about the community?’ and ‘How does the community categorize information about the Evanston Police Department?’
“We also looked at a matrix of oppression. We all carry multiple identities. How do they interact with one another in terms of potentially contributing to stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination, which leads to possible oppression?” Dr. Logan said. “We looked at that within the department, within our society and we also explored that within our community here in Evanston.”
During the year of training, the officers looked at the community through sociohistorical, sociocultural and socioeconomic lenses. They received information about diversity and its counterparts, economic and racial/ethnic segregation and polarization. They also looked at the academic achievement of youth in School Districts 65 and District 202 [Evanston Township High School], according to Dr. Logan’s report.
Strengths and Challenges
Feedback from the community identified four organizational strengths of the Evanston Police Department: responsiveness, care and support, professionalism, and friendliness.
Organizational challenges identified by the community included perceptions of racially biased policing and strategies, unsolved murders, no requirement for Evanston police officers to live here, a lack of cultural competency and interpersonal communication skills, and a “lack of town hall meetings for community members and officers to engage in communitywide discussion on community concerns and issues.” Community members also focused on an “overwhelming ‘mentally ill’ population permeating the community,” some of them on the street, said Chief Eddington, and some residents of two large facilities here.
Findings About the Community
and Police Officers
Dr. Logan said he found mistrust of the police by some of the African American community, and a feeling by the police that the community should be held more accountable. He said he found there is “a general misunderstanding, disconnection, mistrust, and lack of discourse” between the police department and “member groups within the community” and that “diverse groups in the Evanston community hold deeply held views that racism, or at least racial bias, is the root cause of mistrust between the EPD and communities of color.”
Police officers, on the other hand, felt that “the community should be held more accountable. Officers feel strongly that stronger relations with the community need to be forged, and it is essential for the department’s effectiveness and community safety,” Dr. Logan found.
He also said, “Officers have deeply held views that the community needs to be accountable in partnering with the department to solve crimes – and the community should hold the department to the highest standards. … Officers believe that a community that knows the law and how it works and a police force that knows the community and how it works are key ingredients for effective community policing.”
Responses to a survey about the training program were generally positive – the lowest rating in any one area was 80% and most were in the 90%-range. More training, some officers said, would be helpful in the areas of dealing with persons with a mental illness and with minorities, Dr. Logan said.
Recommendations and Suggestions
Dr. Logan’s report offered suggestions for changes at the Evanston Police Department level as well as in the community. Within the department, two suggestions were to develop recruitment, training, retention, and promotion strategies “that increase the probability that officer will be culturally competent, particularly in engaging with communities of color” and to provide “further training to acknowledge and address implicit racial and gender bias and cultural competence.”
Dr. Logan suggested having town hall meetings on issues concerning the police and the community. He also suggested that the Police Department offer training at the community level for residents to better understand the law and their rights and responsibilities and to understand the impact of social media on crime, crime prevention, and community policing.
Police officers themselves offered some suggestions: partnering with ETHS to hold an advisory class on policing and rights – describing the difference between a pat-down and a search, for example; creating a video public service announcement on what to do when stopped by a police officer; pairing a veteran with a new hire in problem areas, rather than putting two new hires there; holding a police open house; and rotating officers through various units.
Discussion About the Report
In his introduction of Dr. Logan at the meeting, Chief Eddington said the training provided by Dr. Logan “was the department’s latest effort to keep police personnel current in their ability to interact effectively with all members of the community. For many years the Evanston Police Department has been committed to diversity training, in sundry forms and under various titles, at significant investment of both time and resources.”
The Chief said he views diversity training as “an ongoing commitment, not unlike taking vitamins rather than being injected with a vaccine. Training needs to be repeated frequently because events in the policing world, and in society at large, change the trajectory of police/community relations very quickly.”
He said the findings in Dr. Logan’s report neither surprised him nor took him aback and that the information reflects “the national mood of community members and police alike. Law enforcement is a difficult profession, subject to many perspectives and attitudes. … Through dialogue progress is made.”
The Chief complimented both Dr. Logan and the Evanston Police Department. “My perception is that members of the department embraced the opportunity to discuss this difficult topic with Dr. Logan, and with their peers.
“The fact that Dr. Logan was able to establish this level of rapport with the men and women of the Evanston Police Department is testimony not only to his ability to work with officers in small groups and create an environment of trust and understanding so that difficult questions can be addressed, but also is testimony to the officers’ willingness to be open to new ideas and concepts—a hallmark of the men and women of the Evanston Police Department. Officers discussing their concerns and issues with their peers in a safe environment can only make the department better.”
That said, the Chief said he has to measure Dr. Logan’s advice against “other responsibilities and concerns that I have regarding budget-control and other related issues. As Dr. Logan is responsible for providing suggestions, I am responsible for evaluating whether implementation of those suggestions is appropriate for the police department at this point in time.”
City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said he echoed Chief Eddington’s remarks and added it has been his experience that “fine reports are only made finer when you actually follow what they suggestions. Now I think our challenge is to come back to you with a plan on how we continue. … Some things that have been suggest are no-cost or low-costs. For added professional training, we have to look at the budget.”
First Ward Alderman Judy Fiske, who retired that night as chair of the committee, said, “I do want to be moving forward with this. I don’t want anyone to think that we’re thanking Dr. Logan for his report and then going on about our business. We want to really keep this in front of the committee.”
Mr. Bobkiewicz said he would return to the committee in two months with a plan.
Responding to a request from Fifth Ward Alderman Delores Holmes asking what would be the focus of the town hall meeting envisioned in the plan, Dr. Logan said his understanding was that the meeting would allow direct dialogue with department members. “This should be an issues-based dialogue and discourse about topics in the Evanston community.
“I’m extremely proud of this community, because we have so many people who care – and that’s an important fact to be able to work with. As a citizen of this community, I’m very proud to have a police department as fine as we have here in Evanston. It’s not perfect by any measure, but it’s a fine police department and there are a number of officers who are passionate about their work. I really think there is opportunity to do great work here in Evanston,” Dr. Logan said.
Ald. Holmes said Chief Eddington was “so receptive in finding someone who could do it here and who understood our community.”
“Trying to explain Evanston [to an outsider] in three days is not happening,” said the Chief.
Alderman Brian Miller, 9th Ward, asked, “Who’s doing this as well? “Who can we look to for best practices?”
“I have not found one community that is doing this the way Evanston is,” said Dr. Logan.
Chief Eddington said, “I think the communities will look to us to see how to do this.”