This morning, Mayor Steve Hagerty released a statement pledging to address police use-of-force policies in Evanston.
"Recognizing reforms need to be made to address police violence and systemic racism within many law enforcement agencies across the nation, Mayor Stephen Hagerty has taken the pledge, as a part of the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance of the Obama Foundation, to evaluate police use of force policies in Evanston," the release says.
"By taking the Pledge here, Mayor Hagerty has committed Evanston to: -- Review the police use of force policies in our community; -- Engage the community by including a diverse range of input, experiences, and stories in the review; -- Report the findings to the community and seek feedback within 90 days of signing this pledge; -- Reform police use of force policies based on findings.
'Every police department in America ought to be taking a look at their use of force policies. Doing this under the auspice of an Obama Foundation pledge by Mayors is even better. Thank you to the Evanstonians who brought this to my attention,” said Mayor Hagerty.'
"Many police chiefs around the region and the country--in cities large and small (including Chicago, Buffalo Grove, and Winnetka)--have publicly condemned the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer kept his knee on Floyd's neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. It's 10 days later, and Evanston's police chief has not publicly addressed the situation or offered any of his thoughts about how it pertains to Evanston's own police department.
In the meantime, Evanstonians are waiting to see body-cam footage from the use-of-force incident that occurred last Wednesday, when EPD officers chased and tackled 20-year-old Trent Hunt to the ground after he tried to film the arrest of his friend. More than 9,000 residents have signed a petition urging the EPD to drop charges against Hunt.
Our inboxes are bursting with emails from local elected officials, leaders, business owners, and nonprofit directors with statements expressing their outrage at what took place in Minneapolis. But nothing from Evanston's police chief.
On May 27, Dear Evanston sent an email to the chief requesting a statement, but did not receive a reply. This past Sunday, The Citizens Network of Protection send the following email to the chief. They, too, have received no response.
"Chief Cook, In the wake of the death of George Floyd, Citizens' Network of Protection has seen police chiefs across this nation make public statements condemning the brutal actions of the four officers involved in his death. Locally, Chicago PD Supt. David Brown ordered mandatory training on positional asphyxiation for all CPD officers and ordered that all officers must watch the video of the murder of George Floyd.
We encourage you, as the Evanston Police Chief, to make a strong, unequivocal statement against the brutality of the officers in Minneapolis, praising the city's termination of the officers and ordering a similar mandatory review of positional asphyxiation for all EPD officers. This statement will be a powerful re-assurance to the Evanston community that the Evanston PD takes seriously their responsibilities to protect the civil rights of all residents and guests in Evanston. It will also be a message to all officers that you and the City will hold them accountable for any violations.
Furthermore, we respectfully request that you hold a town hall meeting, whether online or in-person, to discuss the Evanston PD Use of Force Policy and to answer questions and concerns from the community. The purpose of this discussion would be to help the community better understand EPD's use of force policy and to re-examine the current policy to see if it needs to be modified.
Additionally, we respectfully request that you put forth a recommendation that all use of force incidents be reviewed by Evanston's new civilian oversight board that was created by ordinance 79-O-19. This recommendation should include giving the civilian oversight board access to the use of force reports, body cam footage, and vehicle dash board videos. We also request that all use of force analysis reports completed per Section 300.9 of the EPD policy manual be made available on the data dashboard for public inspection.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns about these recommendations. Thank you for your time and consideration."
The need for real change--for action--is urgent. Words, and statements, and condemnation, and pledge-signing are important first steps. If even those aren't forthcoming from Evanston's police department almost two weeks later, how can residents take seriously any pledge you sign for reform?
Click here to read statements from police chiefs around the country.
[Photo: Statement from Chicago Police Superintendent David O. Brown]