The city has seen a dramatic decline in traffic stops and citations since 2019. With traffic stops down 70%, citations have fallen 63%, Evanston Police Department Sgt. Scott Sophier said Wednesday, Feb. 22.
In 2019, the police department stopped nearly 13,000 cars, which fell to 3,810 in 2022. Traffic citations dropped from 12,157 in 2019 to 4,500 last year.
Sophier, speaking during the Reimagining Public Safety Committee meeting, said the reductions were due to a mix of the pandemic, staffing shortages and changes the department made following the murder of George Floyd.
But still, the police department and the city are aiming to build on the trend to reduce non-safety related add-on citations to reduce the burden of fines and court appearances on residents.
“Traffic violations and traffic issues in the city are quality of life issues,” Sophier said.
Fifth Ward Council Member Bobby Burns asked about next steps in the city’s plan to revamp police interactions.
Sophier said the police department has a 60-day timeline to review the registration and equipment violations in the state vehicle code to reduce enforcement in some cases. As the city moves toward these goals, equity and harm reduction are key priorities.
“We’ve talked about ways to either operationally, or organizationally, foster more partnership between our Public Health Department and our police department as we think through ways to reduce harm in our community,” Burns said.
The city is looking at alternatives to 911, such as 988, the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. As part of these efforts, the city has hired Law Enforcement Action Partnership, a criminal justice reform nonprofit as a consultant as the city seeks moving to a community responder model.
In an analysis of nearly 1,200 911 calls, LEAP found that about 78.6% resulted in no formal action, said Mike Hilliard, a consultant at the firm and retired police officer.