Updated: Aug 14
Who you gonna call? Yesterday, on the NextDoor app, an Evanston resident posted complaining that someone had dumped a dresser drawer next to her garbage cans in the alley. She was livid, and her post demanded that whoever dumped the drawer needed come and retrieve it or she would take the footage of them, caught on her security camera, to the police.
I'm not much of a NextDoor user, but somehow this post popped up on my phone and I couldn't pass it by. Needless to say, so much was wrong with the post. At the very least: A dresser drawer? Go to the police with identifying footage of the "perpetrator?"
Isn't there so much more for us to worry about, feel angry about, put our energy toward right now than a dumped dresser drawer?
Couldn't one take a hammer to the drawer and simply stuff the pieces into one's trash can? Surely the poster could have come up with another way to solve this really minor "problem" rather than reviewing her security-camera footage (I have opinions about security cameras, but that's another topic) and then threaten police action for this misdeed?
With a quick call to 311 (yes, this post really got to me), I learned from the friendly, helpful person who answered that all you need to do is fill out a form over the phone requesting special pickup for what's called "fly dumping," and since the garbage is not yours, you don't pay a penny.
Solved. No police.
I shared this information with the poster, who thanked me profusely.
As Evanston's City Council, police department, and nonprofits work hard to figure how residents can use police differently, how calling 911 is not the go-to solution for every issue, how we can reallocate policing funds, can we all stop and think just a little more creatively about how to rely less on law enforcement and more on the strength of community to solve pesky (and even not so pesky) problems?
Below is a list of all the calls for service the Evanston Police Department receives, separated by ward. Let's "drawer" some new conclusions! At least let's start by switching from the number 9 to the number 3 whenever we can.
As the Human Services Committee addresses questions like this, what other situations can you think of that should be addressed by individuals other than police officers and organizations other than the EPD?
Here's how to get involved and stay informed
Join Mayor Steve Hagerty, Evanston Police Department and guests for three additional Q&As on policing in Evanston on Mondays at noon in August.
This past Monday, the conversation focused on police calls for service. You can watch that session below.
Monday, August 17: Police Use of Force - A Perspective from Impacted Residents
Monday, August 24: Alternative Policing Models Monday, August 31: Conversation with Black Youth on Policing
Watch the discussions live on Channel 16 and on the City’s Facebook page.
Human Services Committee examines policing and alternatives
In addition, Evanston's Human Services Committee, chaired by Alderman Eleanor Revelle, 7, meets on the following Monday evenings starting at 5 p.m:
August 17 5:00 pm
August 31 5:00 pm
Sept. 9 7:00 pm (NOTE: this is on a Wednesday because of Labor Day.)
The committee is currently investigating alternatives to policing with an eye to reallocating funding from the police budget.
Take a look at what kinds of calls the police department receives, broken down by ward, here.
The next Human Services committee meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. this coming Monday, August 17.
You can watch it here.