Officers Kyle Wideman (left) and Adam Howard visiting with Fifth Ward resident Samuel Johnson in his Church Street Barber Shop.

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For the last 30 years the Evanston Police Department has been committed to a Community Policing approach to law enforcement in which community members and police work together to prevent and solve crimes. 

Since 1987, the Department has had foot patrol officers.

There are currently two officers on foot patrol in the Fifth Ward. Nine other police officers on the Community Policing Unit’s Problem Solving Team routinely patrol on foot or bike in other wards. The foot patrol officers work in all seasons and all weather.

This summer, the Problem Solving Team’s officers will work from 2 to 10 p.m., with days off adjusted so that there will be seven-days-a-week coverage. There will also be an extra patrol car that works from 8 p.m. to 4:30 a.m. assigned to hotspot areas.

A key benefit of foot patrols is that citizens become familiar with their local police officers and get to know, like, and even admire the officers. The officers in turn get to know the residents and may gather information about potential crimes.  Officers on foot who familiarize themselves with local neighborhoods may more easily notice anything out of the ordinary.

His typical day, says Fifth Ward Foot Patrol Officer Adam Howard, “begins with responding to emails and text and voice messages left from citizens and City employees from the day[s] before [depending on off days]. Then we get in our patrol vehicle and conspicuously park at a location in the 5th Ward. Once parked, we get out and walk around the neighborhood. We primarily target areas that have received calls or complaints related to criminal or nuisance activity. We stop by the local businesses and chat with the employees and customers. We also address some of the concerns that citizens may have in the ward.

“In an effort to establish and maintain positive interactions between the police and our youth, we also stop by Fleetwood-Jourdain and Family Focus. The first Wednesday of the month, we attend the Foster Senior Club Meeting at Fleetwood-Jourdain and host two games of BINGO for the seniors. This not only establishes a relationship, it provides the opportunity to give back to our senior community.

“The third Thursday of every month, we attend the 5th Ward meeting and sometimes provide the crime statistics for the area. In addition, we present the C.L.E.A.R. Method of Risk Reduction (see sidebar below), encourage residents to follow the preventive measures, and hand out a few of the flyers as a reminder.”

Officer Howard says that a foot patrolman may also respond to calls, especially if he is familiar with the location or the citizens involved.

Aside from the two full-time foot patrol officers, there is no effective way of measuring the amount of time other patrol officers of the Problem Solving Team are on foot patrol. They are encouraged by supervisors to conduct directed foot patrols on their beat through the duration of their shift. In addition, the Community Policing Unit regularly conducts bike patrols throughout the city.

While residents can easily approach foot patrol officers, they may wonder what other officers do while sitting in their patrol cars. Those officers are often completing reports from previous incidents, reading alerts sent to the in-car computer, or watching for traffic violators.

Another important function of the Problem Solving Team is working with the Evanston Property Standards Division on property maintenance and code issues. Officers also make referrals for social services when needed. They forward school-related issues to the Juvenile Bureau’s School Resource Officers.  Problem Solving Team officers also attend ward meetings and neighborhood meetings, help develop block clubs, and complete security surveys.  Criminal and nuisance activity can be reported to the Problem Solving Team at 847-866-5018.

Foot patrolmen Kyle Wideman and Adam Howard are assigned to the 5th Ward.

Officer Wideman grew up in Evanston. He has been with the Evanston Police Department for six years and has been part of the Problem Solving Team as a foot patrolman in the 5th Ward for three years. He says the best thing about his job is “to help people each and every day I come to work, making a difference in the lives of the people of Evanston. The most difficult thing about this job is you spend a lot of time away from your family, but fortunately we can take time to allow us to spend more time with our family, so it all works out.”  A photo of Officer Wideman as a high school football player is on the west wall of Sam’s Barber Shop on Church Street.

Officer Howard has been a police officer for nine years, all of them with the EPD.  In 2015 he was assigned to the Problem Solving Team as a foot patrolman in the 5th Ward.

He says, “The best thing about my job is engaging with the people in the community. I enjoy stopping by Church Street Barber Shop and talking sports with the owner of more than 50 years, Mr. Samuel Johnson. I enjoy stopping by C&W Market and Ice Cream Parlor and discussing entrepreneurship and youth and community development with owner Clarence Weaver.  I take pleasure in attending the 5th Ward meetings, listening to their concerns, and working together to find a solution. There are so many components to this job that I find enjoyable.

“The most difficult part of my job is establishing positive relationships with citizens who already have unfavorable preconceived notions about police officers. In order to change those dynamics, it’s important to establish mutual respect and good communication.  The relationship between the community and the Police Department is critically important because they have entrusted us to serve and protect them. As police officers, we have to respect the communities that we serve as much as we respect the ones we reside in. Furthermore, citizens should respect each officer’s position of authority within their community. Effective communication and mutual respect are fundamental in gaining trust and elevating interpersonal relationships.”

In 2016, Officer Howard developed a burglary prevention strategy known as the C.L.E.A.R. Method of Risk Reduction. In 2016, he partnered with Nichols Middle School Principal Adrian Harries and Student Engagement Coordinator Bryon Harris to design the Officer and Gentlemen Academy (OGA), a male mentoring program held at Nichols. The program is designed to educate, inspire, and empower young men to reach their full potential.

Let⁳ Be C.L.E.A.R.

The C.L.E.A.R. Method of Risk Reduction was developed by Officer Adam Howard. It was designed to minimize residential and vehicle burglaries resulting from negligent circumstances such as unlocked doors and windows.  The acronym stands for:

CALL the police if you observe any suspicious people or activity

LOCK doors and windows (vehicle, home, garage) 

ENCOURAGE neighbors to be alert

AVOID having valuables visible to potential burglars (GPS device, cell phone, purse, etc.), and

RECORD serial numbers of property such as bicycles, televisions, laptops, etc.

Ellen Galland

Ellen Galland has had an architectural practice in Evanston since 1983. For more than 20 years, she has written articles for the RoundTable, including the column “Ask An Architect" and "The Green Column"...