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In an interview with the RoundTable, interim Police Chief Richard Eddington gave new details about Thursday’s police response at Haven Middle School. Evanston Police Department officers arrived at Haven shortly after 9 a.m. Thursday after getting calls of a “rather large disturbance” where a teacher suffered injuries, according to Eddington.
At that point, Evanston emergency medical services treated the teacher and transported her to a local hospital, and EPD officers determined that the injured teacher was “inadvertently knocked down” amid a fight that resulted in a “mad scramble,” Eddington said Friday. After securing the building, Haven and District 65 administrators asked to handle the rest of the situation on their own, so EPD left the building, he said.
But just hours later, the school called Evanston Fire Department paramedics due to “suspicion of a student that was intoxicated,” according to Eddington. An ambulance arrived for that student, but EFD later called for police officers because another student was interfering with the treatment and transportation of the intoxicated student, he said.
“To put this in context, the student that was intervening was probably taller and heavier than I am,” Eddington said. “I happen to be a towering 5’9″. The young man was bigger than that, became belligerent, was asked multiple times to just leave. He was trying to interfere, and when it became clear that he wasn’t going to leave, at that point in time, the officers took him into custody and transported him to the police station.”
Once EPD removed the interfering student from the scene, the student being treated by Emergency Medical Services was transported to the hospital and checked for his impairment level. Eddington said he could not share more details at the moment because of a pending investigation into the situation, but the student taken into police custody will now be referred to the state’s attorney’s office for review regarding a potential juvenile court case.
Jayson Lim, the Haven hallway monitor who less than two weeks ago also went to the hospital due to injuries sustained trying to break up a fight, told the RoundTable on Friday that he is in touch with lawyers and working on pressing charges against the student who punched him. The school suspended that student for two days, according to Lim.
“We’re in an extremely stressful time for many people, and I think that with the series of events from pandemic to omicron to difficult economic times with inflation and the stress that’s putting on family budgets, I think all those things have a cumulative effect,” Eddington said. “And those young people and adults who find themselves in a stressful family situation are more inclined to act out at this time.”
When reflecting on ways to help schools address safety concerns, Eddington said the decision to take school resource officers out of Evanston’s middle schools was probably not “completely thought through.” SROs are still in place at Evanston Township High School, which has not seen as much of an uptick in violent fights or calls to the Police Department, according to the interim chief.
William “Bill” Logan Jr., Evanston’s first Black police chief, was the original architect of the SRO program, and he designed it around the idea of investing in positive interactions with youth, Eddington said.
Eddington also told the RoundTable that EPD had reviewed the footage from the body cameras of the officers present at Haven on Thursday.
“Thus far, we find the actions of the officers within policy and completely reasonable,” he said.