Evanston seeks community involvement to find new police chief


Rebecca Lustig

Senior Dominick Mcintosh sits next to group poster at ETHS student discussion on Oct. 16.

Rebecca Lustig, Staff Writer

A discussion on Tuesday, Oct. 16 in the ETHS Welcome Center gave students the opportunity to share their thoughts and questions regarding the selection of the new Evanston Police Chief.

“I feel like me coming here today is getting my voice heard,” senior Dominick Mcintosh said.

The current Chief of Police of twelve years, Richard Eddington, announced his retirement in July. He will officially retire at the end of December, reports the Daily Northwestern. Evanston City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz decides the process of selecting the new police chief.

City of Evanston officials wanted to include the community in the process. Bobkiewicz, 9th Ward Evanston City Alderman Cicely Fleming, ETHS Activities Director Nicole Boyd, Evanston outreach coordinators, civics teachers and about 30 students were all present at the student discussion.

Students participated in activities where they discussed at tables what qualities they were looking for in the new police chief.

Top ideas included “emotionally stable,” “leader,” “open-minded” and someone who will “prioritize community over police.”

Students also discussed what questions they would ask prospective candidates if they were on the hiring committee. Some questions included “What does diversity mean to you?” and “What is the motive of Black Lives Matter?”

When one student group presented the qualities they believed the new police chief should possess, “Black” was on the list. This generated snaps from other students in attendance.

“As a black woman, everyone who’s black isn’t necessarily for me,” Alderman Fleming commented. “Everyone who is your same complection does not necessarily understand your experience.”

Students were given the opportunity to ask Bobkiewicz questions. A few questions were asked about the process of selecting a new police chief.
Only days after the Van Dyke verdict, students asked Bobkiewicz his thoughts, “Justice was served,” Bobkiewicz responded.

He refused to elaborate when prompted. The Evanston Police Department also declined to give a statement to The Evanstonian regarding the verdict.

“Us black people shouldn’t be shaming other people, we need to be raising them up, and I think the new police chief should help with that,” Mcintosh said.

Four panels of 7-8 people each will interview the top candidates for the position next week. Interviews will last all day; each candidate will spend 45 minutes to 1 hour talking to each panel.

One panel consists of city officials, a second panel made up of members of the police department, and two panels will be made up of community members. Officials want the community panels to reflect Evanston. Students at the meeting were highly encouraged to add their name to a sign-up sheet to be a part of the panels.

Each panel will rank the candidates they interviewed. Then, the panels will come together to share their ideas. Ultimately, Bobkiewicz, an appointed official, has the final say.

Detective Brian Rust, a member of the Evanston Police Department Investigative Services Bureau, believes it is important “to hear community opinions.” Rust feels “confident” in whoever officials sees fit to hire as the next police chief.

The City of Evanston partnered with GovHR, a national advertising and hiring agency for public employees, to find the new police chief. The position is currently reported nationally, but many students and community members place emphasis on having the new police chief understand the Evanston community.

“I think that Evanston is a diverse community,” Bobkiewicz explained, “I want to make sure the police chief recognizes that. I want to make sure the police chief recognizes that everyone has an equal voice in our community.

Notes from the Sept. 5 community meeting show that other Evanston residents want a police chief with a “strong background of involvement in community activities, especially in Black and Hispanic and immigrant communities.”

“It’s very important for you to understand how city government works,” Fleming said. “Try to think deeper about how you want this new person [police chief] to be, how you want them to value you and your city…It’s really important that we hear from the young people because you will be with this person, if you stay in town, for a long time.”