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In an attempt to address the mistrust of police by people living in minority communities, the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police has affirmed their Shared Principles. These principles were reaffirmed earlier in the year by 177 leaders from law enforcement and communities of color in an attempt to answer the question “Where do we go from here?” The State of Illinois encouraged communities to implement the values in their own police departments.
In Mason Park on July 27, the Evanston Police Department and the Evanston NAACP reaffirmed the principles in a small public gathering where Evanston Police Chief Richard Eddington and Evanston NAACP President Reverend Dr. Michael C.R. Nabors signed the initiative. Together, the EPD and NAACP will work together to bridge a gap in trust between communities of color and the police so that people of color can trust going to the police.
While trust is one of the Principles, others include the four pillars of procedural justice: fairness, voice, transparency and impartiality. Other valued principles include the endorsement of community policing, developing strong and ongoing relationships and de-escalation training to ensure the safety of community members and officers. In the City of Evanston, the pair noted that de-escalation training was the most important thing. Chief Eddington said de-escalation was already an important topic the Evanston Police Department committed to in their 27-point working plan.
Chief Eddington says, “This is not a police agenda but an agenda to build a rapport with the community.” Chief Eddington and Dr. Nabors said they saw the July 27 ceremony as a kickoff campaign to work toward a brighter future in the Evanston community.
Chief Eddington went to Fleetwood-Jourdain during an NAACP Chapter meeting, where he discussed his perspective on what was happening in the community and determined a way to collaborate on different opportunities to make community relations better. “It just so happened that right around the same time, the State was doing this shared principles idea. The Chief brought it to me and said, ‘Hey would you like to do something local?’” Dr. Nabors said. For months they worked on what was important in order to get the language specific and tailor it to the needs of the people of Evanston.
“They seem to be moving away [from] blame on both sides to accountability,” said Justin Eason, Executive Director of Art of Evolution Theatre Company, who witnessed the ceremony.
Others attending the ceremony were members of the press, community members who were passing through and Mayor Stephen Hagerty, who jokingly said that Dr. Nabors and Chief Eddington did not know he would be there because they thought that Mayor Hagerty was still on vacation.
“I’m particularly proud of the City of Evanston. It is one of the first cases where the Chief of Police and President of the NAACP have gotten together and confirmed these shared values and principles that we have”, Mayor Hagerty said. Chief Eddington said this is one of the only instances where the president of the local chapter of the NAACP and a chief of police held a joint signing ceremony to show their mutual commitment to executing the Shared Principles.
Both Chief Eddington and Dr. Nabors said they hope that this initiative will make community relations better. Ideally, the relationship will get better when people living in minority communities feel comfortable going to either the police or the NAACP.