Saying they do not believe either of the two current police-citizen groups – one a board, the other, a committee – has the power to provide sufficient oversight and implement recommendations, a group called the Citizens Network  of  Protection is calling for an independent police review board.

At present, the Police Advisory Board and the Citizens Police Advisory Committee meet regularly with members of the Evanston Police Department at different times and for different purposes.

Police Advisory Board

The Police Advisory Board is composed of people who either live or work in Evanston; they are appointed by the Chief of Police, said Police Commander Joe Dugan. Many are block captains or people who are otherwise active in their neighborhoods, he said, and “there is not a set number of participants.” 

For the most part, the quarterly meetings cover current events, said Cmdr. Dugan. He said about 20 people attended the December meeting, although the notice of the meeting was sent to about 50. The Police Advisory Board next meets in March.

Citizens Police Advisory Committee

The Citizens Police Advisory Committee (CPAC) was created by City ordinance in 2008 “to review all formal and informal complaints against police officers.” Members are appointed by the Mayor and approved by the City Council. According to the City’s website, CPAC is to be composed of “no less than four to not more than nine residents of the community, with one person from each ward and no more than two citizens coming from any one ward.”

The Committee meets with members of the Office of Professional Standards, and reviews “details of the incident, allegations and statements made by the complainant, witness statements, officer statements and reports, and any relevant audio/video evidence. Committee members who review these materials weigh their findings in the context of departmental policies and general orders with which they are thoroughly conversant, and past decisions of the Chief of Police.”

Information on the City’s website says after the committee members have reviewed the complaints, they “recommend a disposition of the matter to the Chief of Police, for approval/modification as final arbiter.” After review by the CPAC, the complaints and accompanying information are given to the City’s Human Services Committee for further review.

A provision in the resolution that was passed by City Council on June 9, 2008, allows members of the CPAC who disagree with the Chief of Police’s disposition to speak at the Human Services Committee’s review but only “as concerned citizens.”

Citizens Network  of  Protection

Betty Ester, one of the residents who worked on the original 2008 CPAC resolution, is a member of the Citizens Network of Protection. CNP advocates, among other things, an independent civilian board with greater purview and powers.

Speaking on behalf of CNP at the Dec. 5 Human Services Committee meeting, Ms. Ester said, “In 2008, the City Council put in place an advisory committee. That document was viewed as a bridge to a fully independent police review board. On Aug. 19, the Citizens Network of Protection held a meeting on what they called “the outdated model of police oversight.”

Other residents spoke at the Dec. 6 meeting in favor of an independent police review board.

Carliss Sutton said a citizens advisory board would help with the City and would work with the Police Department. Devon Reid said he would like to see a citizens review board with investigative powers.

Bennett Johnson said “What’s needed, first, is the independent police review board.”

Alderman Delores Holmes, 5th Ward, said she remembered that when an advisory board was first discussed, “one of the things that came up was a paid board.” She said she might not support paying a salary but might agree to a stipend “if these people are separate from the Police Department.”

 Ms. Ester said CNP is working on a draft proposal to present to City Council.

Mary Gavin

Mary Gavin is the founder of the Evanston RoundTable. After 23 years as its publisher and manager, she helped transition the RoundTable to nonprofit status in 2021. She continues to write, edit, mentor...