Editor’s note: This statement from Evanston Police Chief Schenita Stewart was issued Friday, Jan. 27, before the release of the video of Tyre Nichols’ fatal beating at the hands of Memphis Police. The Rev. Michael C. R. Nabors later posted a response to the video’s release. Both have agreed to hold a town hall meeting to discuss the issues of police violence and community trust in the near future at a date yet to be determined.
Highly publicized police-citizen encounters over the past few years have garnered the attention of the nation. The recent arrest of five Memphis Police officers for the beating and murder of Tyre Nichols and the subsequent release of video of this incident will again spotlight police misconduct on a national level. Individuals who have seen the video describe it as reckless, appalling and inhumane.
I believe that the general mission of police is to ensure the safety of the public, reduce crime, establish trust and maintain the quality of life. In fulfilling this mission, we are responsible for protecting the constitutional rights of every person we encounter.
A crisis of confidence is increasing in communities over police use of force, lack of transparency, and what is seen as overly aggressive law enforcement strategies. These actions have upset our social fabric and undermined the confidence in and legitimacy of our police agencies and local governments. This has to change.
As chief of the Evanston Police Department, I would like to reiterate our department’s continued commitment to building trust, confidence and partnership with our community, and to protecting the rights of all individuals as we carry out our mission of ensuring public safety.
I am honored and privileged to work with the members of the Evanston Police Department and our entire community as we carry out this important work. Thank you for everything you do.
Chief Schenita Stewart