Police practices and policies, including a potential shift in focus, will be front and center at the Aug. 31 Human Services Committee.  Police Best Practices, Alternative to Arrest and a program titled Shared Safety are on the agenda.

Best Practices

Evanston Police Chief Demitrous Cook will discuss seven key principles that “police departments should consider,” according to the report “Police Reform and Racial Justice, published by the United States Conference of Mayors. Chief Cook’s memo to the members of the Human Services Committee outlines the seven practices and says The Evanston Police Department is currently working toward all seven of these recommendations to support the well-being of the community while protecting the City as they are trained to do.”

The seven principles, according to Chief Cook’s memo, are as follows:

1. “Departments should assign final disciplinary authority to the police chief.”

2. “Departments should have public complaint processes that make filing a complaint open to all.”

3. “Departments should have policies on officer investigations that clearly define the procedures for carrying out the investigations and seeing them through to completion, even if an officer separates from the department.”

4. “Departments should regularly release to the public, in accordance with relevant state laws, data on disciplinary actions and decisions, including those made by arbitrators.”

5. “Departments should have policies that require supervisors to conduct ongoing reviews of stops, searches, arrests, and uses of force.”

6. “Departments should require body-worn cameras and develop policies for the review, release, and preservation of footage.”

7. ”Departments should implement an early-intervention system to identify at-risk officers to help support their well-being.”

Recent Innovations, Alternatives to Arrest and Complaint Process

Richard Eddington, Chief Cook’s immediate predecessor, implemented several changes after certain incidents that did not reflect well on the department and some of its officers.

The memo lists the 27-Point Police Issue Work Plan, the Hillard, Heintze Organizational Assessment, Alternatives to Arrest, Police Complaint Process and Use of Force Review. Excerpts from the memo appear below:

27 Point Police Issue Work Plan

In February 2017, to address issues surrounding various police topics and policies, then-Police Chief Eddington and then-City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz presented to the Human Services committee a “Police Issue Work Plan” to address issues and look at certain policies needing modification. Twenty-seven topics emerged and, over the next 18 months the Police Department

  • Implemented body-worn cameras and established policy requiring all sworn officers to utilize during citizen encounters.
  • Updated the Use of Force Policy to incorporate national best practices as recommended by the IACP.
  • Established a Use of Force Review Committee to review all use of force investigations conducted by supervisors, making sure the investigation was thorough.
  • Entered into a multi-year contract with Logan Consulting to conduct department-wide training for police department staff and facilitate four Police/Community town hall meetings.”\

Hillard Heintze Organizational Assessment

“In the spring of 2018, then-Chief Eddington and then-City Manager Bobkiewicz contracted with Hillard Heintze LLC, a security risk management firm specializing in law enforcement organization assessments, to examine the staffing and operational efficiency of the police department. As a result, the police department streamlined its organizational structure while maintaining maximum efficiency in supervision and customer service.”

Alternatives to Arrest

“The Alternatives to Arrest Committee, created in 2017, made recommendations on best practices for juvenile penalties other than arrest. The committee members incorporated the Illinois State statute on expungements, along with other recommendations, into the City Code, directing the Evanston Police Department to refer minors under the age of 18 years old for all appropriate and applicable cases to the Division of Administrative Hearings as a diversion from the Circuit Court of Cook County.”

Police Complaints Process

“For 14 months the Citizens Police Complaint Assessment Committee (CPCAC) studied the Police Department’s complaint process, resulting in a new Police Complaint register form, a new complaint intake process and a citizen review board was formed (CPRC).”

Use of Force Review

In June of this year, the memo said, Mayor Stephen Hagerty pledged to evaluate the Evanston Police Department’s use of force policies, and the department’s command staff has begun a review of the police. Based upon national best practices, the department may modify its policies.

In addition, according to the memo, “The Police Department partnered with The Northwestern Neighborhood Network Initiative (N3) to conduct a review of the current Use of Force Policy. It is expected that N3’s assessment will include recommendations on enhancing the policy to align with best practices.”

‘Shared Safety’ Discussion

The concept of Shared Safety also appears on the agenda of the Aug. 29 meeting. Per its website, Sharedsafety.us, the organization defines shared safety as “a joint responsibility for ensuring safety for all. This means that Shared Safety is not just the responsibility of law enforcement. This isn’t a ‘yours’ or ‘theirs’ problem; it is ‘our’ problem.”

Saying that traditional criminal justice approaches have meant safety for only some rather than for all, shared safety is “an integrated framework to support local leaders in changing the safety paradigm. It seeks to bring together cross-sector public agencies, crime survivors, and community-based organizations to prioritize, problem-solve, and measure systemic efforts to reduce harm and heal communities.”

With a public health lens, the shared safety concept prioritizes prevention, intervention and treatment; and increases opportunities for diversion.

The Shared Safety framework is based on the following:

? evidence-based corrections practices (e.g., risk-need-responsivity)

? trauma-informed investments and responses

? restorative justice principles

? behavioral health and public health science

? violence reduction strategies

? housing first models

The meeting, scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. on Aug. 31, will be held via Zoom.

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...